UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WJZ) — Police are searching for an arsonist after nearly a dozen burning vehicles are found in a parking lot of Watkins Regional Park in Prince George’s County.
Christie Ileto explains police believe the blaze started with one stolen vehicle.
Police say someone dumped a stolen vehicle in the parking lot, then set it on fire. That fire, in turn, spread quickly to 10 vehicles nearby.
The smoldering skeletons of 11 vehicles are the casualties Wednesday of what police are calling an arson investigation.
Officers say someone set a fire in Watkins Regional Park in the early hours of the morning.
“Commission employees came to work and noticed vehicles on fire in the parking lot,” said Captain Stanley Johnson, National Capital Park Police.
Captain Johnson says 10 burning cars, buses and vans owned by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission are essentially a total loss.
But police say it all started with a stolen Cadillac.
“There was a vehicle parked next to the commission vehicles that was stolen from D.C. It appears at this time, a Cadillac vehicle, and it was set on fire or either caught on fire,” said Johnson.
The fire intensified by the winds, quickly wiped out the tax dollar funded vehicles that park staff say are used by employees and as activity buses for children and seniors.
“It’s always tough when you lose resources to something like this. It’s unfortunate, and hopefully we can find the person or persons who did this,” said spokesperson Anita Pesses, Capital Park and Planning Commission.
Police are relying on nearby surveillance cameras to fill in the blanks.
“We’re not sure if we’ll get clear pictures of the vehicle coming or leaving or any potential suspects,” Johnson said.
While officers hunt the arsonist, park staff are finding alternatives to continue service without disruption.
Park staff say two of the burned vehicles were new.
No injuries were reported.
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