2020 | Police & Fire

UPDATED: Man arrested, accused of arson in White Oak-area townhouse fire

Fire & Rescue spokesman says man is part of family living in townhouse

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Salim Cole

Photo from Pete Piringer via Twitter

A man was arrested and charged with arson on Tuesday in connection with a fire at a townhouse in the White Oak area of Silver Spring, a fire official said.

Salim Cole, 35, was arrested and charged with starting a fire at a townhouse in the Fairland area, Montgomery County Fire & Rescue spokesman Pete Piringer wrote on Twitter Tuesday evening.

State court records indicate that Cole has a home address listed that matches the scene of the fire. Piringer said in an interview on Tuesday that the man is a member of the family living in the townhouse.

Piringer said in a video posted to Twitter that a fire at a townhouse started around 1:45 p.m. in the 1700 block of Featherwood Street near Old Columbia Pike.

More than 100 firefighters, including some from Prince George’s County, responded, Piringer said. While firefighters were en route, they “had indication” that the fire was intentionally set, he said.

One woman who was trapped in the rear of the townhouse was rescued, Piringer said. There were no serious injuries.

Piringer said in the video that the person suspected of starting the fire left before firefighters arrived, but he was found “not far” from the scene by a county police officer.

In another tweet, Piringer wrote that authorities think Cole used an open flame to ignite “ordinary combustibles in a family room.”

Cole is charged with first-degree arson, first-degree malicious burning and reckless endangerment. As of Wednesday morning, no attorney information was listed and a court date had not yet been set.

Capt. Tom Jordan, a police spokesman, referred all questions to Piringer on Tuesday.

Piringer said three families were displaced from the townhome.

Damage in the fire was estimated at $200,000 for the house and $50,000 for the contents, Piringer wrote on Twitter.

He said in the video that it took about 15 to 20 minutes to put out most of the fire.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com