Briefly: The Metro Area
Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Fires at neighboring homes ruled 'suspicious'
The Prince George's County fire department has ruled that two house fires, one of which was hot enough to launch propane tanks 60 yards, had suspicious starts.The fires occurred within a week of each other in two unoccupied homes in the 8200 block of Student Drive, department spokesman Mark Brady said. One fire was set on New Year's Day and the other a week later at 1:30 a.m. Monday.Monday's fire was reported at a home described by Mr. Brady as in the drywall installation stage The exposed timber and lumber burned quickly and intense, Mr. Brady said in a statement. Propane cylinders were on site to be used when the drywall was installed. Some of the cylinders exploded. One cylinder careened nearly 50 yards into a neighbor's driveway across the street, damaging the brick exterior of a garage This house was under construction, Mr. Brady said, adding that a lot of things could be ruled out right away as cause for that fire to start.Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames without incident. Damage was estimated at $150,000.The other fire happened at about 6:15 p.m. New Year's Day at a vacant home next to the house that was damaged Monday morning.That home had been foreclosed on and was unoccupied, Mr. Brady said. No injuries were reported and fire damage was reported at $250,000.Both homes were built by county high school students enrolled in a program that provides teenagers with the opportunity to a build a house that can later be sold. Meredith Somers
O'Malley announces $336M for school construction
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration says $336 million in school construction funding and upgrades will be in the budget for the next fiscal year.The governor made the announcement in Baltimore on Monday.The budget will include $325 million for the state's Public School Construction Program. That will include $25 million for air conditioning in schools.Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown said in a statement that air conditioning is a necessity that helps fight against mold and allergens in the air. …