By Cristina Mendez

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Authorities are looking into whether arson is to blame for a Tuesday morning apartment fire in Howard County that displaced 20 residents.

Firefighters were called to the apartments in the 10400 block of Hickory Ridge Road in Columbia about 3:30 a.m. in response to the fire, Howard County Police said.

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When crews arrived, they found flames coming from the second floor and they immediately began helping residents evacuate the building, police said.

It took firefighters about 45 minutes to get the fire under control.

One resident was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries, and a firefighter was being evaluated.

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Twelve apartments were damaged in the blaze, which caused an estimated $500,000 in damages and displaced 20 residents, according to police.

Detectives suspect that someone might have intentionally set the fire, based on remnants of an “incendiary device” recovered from the scene.

A police spokesperson told WJZ there were no additional details to be released about the nature of that device.

“There will be a lot of forensic work to be done,” the spokesperson said.

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Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Howard County police at 410-313-STOP. You can also email HCPDCrimeTips@howardcountymd.gov.

Cristina Mendez