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Employee Charged With Arson In Belvedere Tire Store Fire

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Baltimore police say the man who started a three-alarm fire at a Northwest Baltimore tire shop worked there. He’s now under arrest and facing a long list of criminal charges, including first-degree arson.

Derek Valcourt has more on the shocking reason police say he did it.

Detectives say the employee was upset that another co-worker was using his favorite paintbrush.

It was just one week ago when Belvedere Tire Shop erupted into a massive inferno. It was a three-alarm fire that sent thick black smoke that smelled like petroleum billowing into the air.

One week later, the building that housed the family run shop is gone. But Belvedere Tire is back in business across the street, selling their tires in a vacant lot.

Valcourt: “You’re like a fighter.  You get knocked down, you get back up?”

“Come back fighting harder,” said Sam Hines, manager.

The family that runs the business is well aware that police arrested their 35-year-old employee, Jason Hicks.

Investigators say Hicks became upset that a co-worker was using his paintbrush.

“They got into a verbal argument, it escalated and Mr. Hicks produced a lighter. That lighter was ignited, it ignited one of the flammable tar substances that was coating a tire and resulted in a three-alarm fire,” said Det. Kevin Brown, Baltimore City Police.

Hicks suffered second-degree burns to his arm in the process.

Back at Belvedere Tire, managers don’t think Hicks intended to cause harm.

“It could have been horse-playing that just got out of hand, not expecting it to get that big,” Hines said. “I don’t think he got that upset that he would burn our building down.  I don’t think so.  Probably just a little playing that got out of hand more than anything.”

Valcourt: “So you have no hard feelings?”

“No,” Hines said. “No hard feelings toward no human being.”

He says instead they are focused on getting back to business as usual, serving loyal customers like Norma Jackson.

“It’s just a blessing that they are open,” Jackson said. “I’m glad. I’m so glad because I’ve been coming here for years.”

Even without a permanent roof over their heads, the owners say business goes on because the rubber always meets the road.

A judge has denied bail for Hicks. He faces a long list of criminal charges, including first-degree arson.

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