As of Tuesday evening the verdict was still out as to whether the fire at 4012 Elmwood Drive, Burgundy Village, Mount Vernon District of Alexandria, was another strike by the region's unidentified serial arsonist. The pattern was similar to the previous 39 cases being tracked by the Regional Arson Task Force.
"We still do not have any definite confirmation from our lab analysis," Michael Campbell, public information officer, Arson Task Force, said.
This was confirmed by Lieutenant Raul Castillo, public information officer, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.
"Basically, all the damage was to the outside of the home at the front door area. There was minimum damage estimated at approximately $7,500," Castillo said.
Dennis Engel, a neighbor at 4009 Elmwood, across the street from the victim's home, spotted the blaze at approximately 5:45 a.m. and called 911. He tried to extinguish it with his garden hose but units of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department arrived immediately after the 911 call and doused the blaze.
The only damage evident on Tuesday was to the left side of the front door and a plant next to the door. When contacted, the owner of the home, Rogelio Reyes, refused to comment.
Reyes was not home at the time of the blaze, having left for work earlier that morning. The house was empty when Engel spotted the fire at the front door. "I saw a glow at the front door and smoke coming from the eves and under the siding," he said.
Fires attributed to the alleged serial arsonist began in March 2003. Since that time 39 suspicious residential blazes have been attributed to that source. There has been one death and approximately a dozen injuries in the various fires.
Including the Elmwood Drive fire, three of the 39 fires have been in Northern Virginia. The rest have been in the District of Columbia and Prince Georges County, according to Task Force statistics.
The Arson Task Force was formed in June 2003 after similarities to various fires throughout the region became evident to fire investigators. Some of those similarities include time of day for the fires and the use of a similar accelerant on the exterior of the buildings.