Maurice Dews pleads guilty on five arson charges

This fire, set in the 800 block of of 48th Place NE, sent four firefighters to the hospital. (Photo: WJLA)

Maurice Dews, the man who was accused of multiple arsons in the D.C. metro area, including one which critically injured a volunteer fire chief, pleaded guilty to multiple charges of arson and assault Friday.

Dews is pleading guilty to five counts of arson and four counts of aggravated assault while armed. He'll receive 25 years in prison for crimes he committed in the District and 15 years for crimes in Prince George's County. The terms will be served concurrently.

One of the fires Dews was responsible for was set in a house in the 800 block of 48th Place Northeast on April 8. That blaze sent four firefighters to the hospital with serious injuries. One of them, Charles Ryan, spent several months in the hospital after he was burned on over 30 percent of his body.

After undergoing multiple surgeries, Ryan, who also served as the volunteer fire chief for the Riverdale Volunteer Fire Department, was released from the hospital in late May.

"We were basically engulfed in flames, forced down to the floor and you only have a matter of seconds to get out,” says Robert Alvarado of the D.C. fire department. “We were very close to having four funerals that night."

Charging documents alleged that Dews would call 911 to report fires that he set himself in both D.C. and in Maryland. Firefighters then stated that they would see the suspect at the scene of the fire, watching the structure burn.

He was also originally charged with setting at least two additional fires: a July 5 fire set at 804 48th Place NE and, the next day, another one at 4501 Grant St. NE.

Authorities also allege that, at one point, Dews told investigators he was a volunteer with the Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department. Officials with the department say Dews once tried to join their ranks, but was rejected.

"Serial arsonists eventually do talk about what they did,” says Michael Campbell of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive. “That seems to be part of the personality from what our profilers say."