35 Displaced After Tuesday Morning Arson In Cambridge

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CAMBRIDGE, Md. - Displaced residents are now settled into a local church, waiting to hear back from the city about where they go from here.

Maryland state fire marshals are saying the foyer of an apartment complex on 416 Pleasant Street was intentionally set on fire after 2:30 AM. The arson reportedly started from ordinary combustibles ignited in the stairwell, foyer area.

Residents started packing on Tuesday morning and clearing out debris, hours after an arson destroyed the foyer of their apartment complex.

But 35 parents and children sat outside of their homes, waiting for help.

"I'm tired and a little frustrated because of the way things are not moving along," said Peggy Farrow.

Robert Jones says he called 911 after smoke rushed into his apartment.

"I couldn't even see my hands in front of my face," said Jones. 

But Jones, who sat outside with his wife and child, says it's been a long morning while he waited for Red Cross to help out.

"It's just been an ordeal, out here all morning. I'm tired, haven't had a shower. I smell like smoke. I got smoke all in my nose and stuff," said Jones. "I'm just glad I could get everybody out and alerted everybody, because the fire alarms never went off."

Thirteen hours after the fire sparked, help finally came after the American Red Cross sheltered residents at the Jubilee Christian Fellowship. Patrick Robbins, a case worker for the Red Cross says he first arrived on scene at 5:30 AM and was trying to get residents situated while finding temporary housing.

"A situation like this is incredibly frustrating and difficult, especially when it's you and your family and your kids that are affected," said Robbins.

But it's not just the Red Cross helping out residents, Jesus' Church, which happens to be a tenant inside is also pitching in. WMDT spoke with Pastor Abe Lankford hours before residents took shelter.  He says that while the building was opened, he let residents come inside, rest and even pitched in for breakfast.

"Our church, in a minimal way, we went out and just bought some doughnuts for the people and some coffee just to help them out," said Lankford. "[But what we did is] not enough yet."

This all happened while Lankford cleaned up from water and smoke damage the church sustained from the fire.

The city temporarily condemned the building until a sprinkler system is up-and-running.  According to fire marshals, the sprinklers helped prevent the building from sustaining further damages.

Lankford agrees, "I think about the damage that could have been done and what's amazing to me is that the sprinkler system actually worked and it prevented a lot of people from getting hurt."

Until further inspections, fire officials won't let anyone back into the building. Damage so far is reportedly at $20,000.


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