MARYLAND

Abraham Ogazgi Kiflu charged with arson in Chevy Chase apartment fire

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(Photo: Jay Korff)

 

A 24-year-old man who fire officials say admitted to starting a fire that caused more than $1 million in damage to a Chevy Chase apartment building on Tuesday has been charged with arson.

Montgomery County Fire spokesman Scott Graham says that Abraham Ogazgi Kiflu, who lived in the building in the 2700 block of Terrace Drive with his parents, went to a county police station after midnight and confessed to the Fire Marshal that he had started the blaze.

Two firefighters were injured - one of them seriously - as a result of the three-alarm fire that broke out in the apartment building Tuesday afternoon, Montgomery County fire officials say. Both have been released after being treated for heat-related and other injuries.

Kiflu is a relative of the tenant of one of the units in the building and was living there at the time of the fire. No details were given about how or why he started the fire or why he confessed, but sources say the motive may be domestic in nature. Kiflu is continues to be questioned, police say.

Cathy Miller is one of more than 100 people displaced by Tuesday's three-alarm fire at the Round Hill apartments in North Chevy Chase. And like many she is stunned to learn that her own neighbor has confessed and is charged with arson.

“I want to give him a hug he surely needs it like I’ve been hugged by all my friends,” Miller says. “He surely needs a hug.”

Miller did find something of a miracle among the rubble. She is an artist and somehow much of her work survived the fire.

Montgomery County Fire spokesman Scott Graham said on Twitter that the fire broke out in a building in the 2700 block of Terrace Drive at about 2:15 p.m. The fire reportedly started in a top-level unit of the Round Hill Apartments and had spread to other buildings when first responders arrived.

No residents were injured in the fire, which damaged or destroyed at least 34 units and displaced about 100 people. It took about 125 fire and rescue personnel to extinguish the flames.

Thirty-two families comprising 100 people were displaced, Red Cross officials said. They will spend the night at a nearby rec center.

Residents like Theresa Orevba and Chris Wilber said they grabbed what they could from their homes and escaped with their lives.

"I feel very upset, crying a little bit," said resident Gloria Amaya. "Only God knows what I'm going to do."

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and fire officials say the blaze jumped from the top level corner unit to an adjoining building and spread quickly because the building shared an attic with no fire walls.

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