Student Drive fire in Clinton possibly an arson

(Courtesy Michaele Samuel)

Prince George's County fire officials are investigating two suspicious fires that occurred just a week apart at neighboring homes.

Crews were called to a house fire at 8204 Student Drive. The home, which was under construction, burned quickly and collapsed into the basement.{ }

The fire grew so hot several propane bottles on the scene exploded; some becoming projectiles. One struck a car in the area.

Neighbor Scott Midgett said, "You saw almost a fireball go across the street, and that's when we all went running for cover."

Based on the evidence gathered from the rubble, investigators believe this may be a case of arson.

While there were no injuries reported, there are still victims.

The fire brought a popular high school job training program to its knees. The house was the latest of 12 in the neighborhood built entirely by students from 18 different Prince George's County high schools. Each year, students build a home on Student Drive. The homes are later sold.

Rick Hodgdon, the program's director, said, "I'm not sure that we'll be able to do anything with the students. It doesn't seem likely."

Hodgdon says the entire spring semester has to be scrapped.

"...This really stops the whole thing. This really is a sad devastating thing to see," Hodgdon added.

But that's only half the story.

The house immediately next door, vacant after a foreclosure, was set on fire New Year's Day. No injuries were reported.

But neighbors are left wondering who's next.

Resident Brian Thomas said, "I'm fearful that it happened. It happened within a week's time. So yeah, I'm concerned."

The student training program will most likely continue next school year.