D.C. man sentenced to 25 years for arson string

WASHINGTON – The man who pled guilty to multiple charges of arson in the D.C. area was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years in prison.

Maurice Dews, 27, of D.C. was arrested last year and entered a guilty plea in November 2011 to five counts of arson stemming from a series of fires that occurred over a three and a half year period.

The guilty plea is part of a broader plea agreement covering three counts of first-degree arson in Maryland. If approved by a judge, Dews will be sentenced to an additional 15 years, served concurrently with Tuesday’s sentence.

Dews has admitted to starting at least five fires in the District between January 2008 and June 2011. He also admitted to setting three fires in Prince George’s County, Md.

He also pled guilty to four counts of aggravated assault while armed stemming from a fire he started in April 2011 in NE Washington. Four firefighters were seriously hurt in the fire.

“Mr. Dews caused life-changing injuries to these firefighters, and destroyed homes in densely populated neighborhoods,” Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said in a news release. “This sentence won’t heal the firefighters’ injuries, but we hope that it will cause others to think twice before committing arson in the future.”

Dews frequently sought vacant homes or structures to set his fires, often alerting police and nearby residents himself.

However, on April 8, 2011, firefighters responded to a fire set by Dews, unaware that the home was vacant. They entered the home in an attempt to save those who may have been inside and all five sustained serious burns, four of whom have permanent scarring.

Dews admitted to setting the following fires in D.C.:

  • Jan. 4, 2008: A fire in a vacant unit of an elderly community on Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue NE. Residents were forced to evacuate and the fire caused $15,000 in damage.
  • March 15, 2011: A fire in a storage garage of a single-family home in the 3500 block of Hertford Street NW. Dews called 911 to report the fire, which caused damage to items in the garage.
  • April 8, 2011: A fire in a vacant home in the 800 block of 48th Place NE. Dews called 911 and told the residents next door about the blaze, which caused $152,000 in damage to the vacant home and $20,000 in damage to the residence next door. Firefighters and rescue squad members responding to the scene did not know the home was vacant, and four of them — Charles “Chucky” Ryan III, Ramon Hounshell, Lt. Robert Alverado and Warren “Mike” Deavers — suffered serious injuries after entering the residence and are permanently scarred from the burns. A fifth member, Teddy Douglas, also suffered burns.
  • June 14, 2011: A fire in a vacant single-family home in the 4500 block of Grant Street NE. Dews again called 911 and alerted two residents next door to the blaze, which caused about $202,000 in damage to the home and $20,000 in damage to the next-door residence.
  • June 23, 2011: A fire at a vacant single-family home in the 5000 block of Hayes Street NE that caused $249,000 in damage.
  • The Maryland fires occurred on May 1, 2007; Dec. 31, 2010 and May 2, 2011.

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