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Critical Infrastructure News

2-Alarm Fire Destroys Garage at USDA Campus in Beltsville

A two-alarm fire at the U.S. Department of Agriculture facility in Beltsville, Maryland, burned a garage to the ground Tuesday.  Several vehicles were also destroyed.  Crews were called Tuesday morning for a reported shed fire. They arrived to find heavy fire along the side of and inside a large garage. Vehicles inside the building were on fire, said a Prince George's County fire spokesman.  Prince George's County fire/EMS department spokesman Mark Brady said it took firefighters about 45 minutes Tuesday to knock down most of the flames at a one-story row of workshops inside the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland.  Most of the fire was out by about 11 a.m.  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesman David Cheplak says arson and explosives agents, who often investigate large fires and fires at federal facilities, are on the scene.  He said in an email late Tuesday that there does not appear to be evidence that a criminal act occurred. Cheplak emphasized that the investigation is still open.

Source: NBC4

Pentagon simulation crash exercise scheduled for Thursday

The Pentagon Force Protection Agency will conduct a simulated helicopter crash and mass casualty exercise at the Pentagon Mall Terrace and Heliport Thursday.  The mass casualty exercise will allow all emergency response partners to validate their response capabilities and involves a helicopter crash and subsequent fire at the Pentagon.  The exercise involves first responders from the Arlington County Fire & Rescue, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Fire Station 161 and Crash Team, DiLorenzo Tricare Health Clinic and the American Red Cross.

The exercise scenario and may be visible from the Virginia State Highway Routes 27 and 110.  Commuters are warned they may see police and emergency response activity in and around the Pentagon Mall Terrace and Heliport during the exercise.  The exercise will be held on the the north side of the Pentagon from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will not disrupt normal employee or visitor access to the Pentagon.

The Pentagon Force Protection Agency is a civilian agency within the Department of Defense charged with protecting and safeguarding the occupants, visitors and infrastructure of the Pentagon, Navy Annex and other Pentagon facilities.

Source: WTOP

2 Baltimore Police Impersonators Arrested; 2 At Large

Authorities say they have arrested two of the four suspects who impersonated Baltimore Police officers and targeted drivers over the weekend.  The four suspects are described as wearing black tactical vests with the word “AGENT’ written on them. They even search the cars of the victims with flashlights, police say.

“They had no reason to believe they were anything but police except for the robberies took place afterwards,” said a Baltimore Police spokesperson Donny Moses.  Last Friday night, authorities say the police impostors, driving in what looked like an undercover cop car, robbed a person in the 1300 block of Ramsey Street. The suspects stole nearly $400 from the victim.  The next morning, police say the suspects offered to help a driver with a blown-out tire just outside of M&T Bank Stadium when they stole the victim’s money and cell phone.

Police say they know who all four suspects are and believed they are armed.  John Waters, 25, who police say was in the getaway car, turned himself into police on Sunday night. He was charged with two counts of armed robbery and impersonating a police officer.  Devin Moore, 21, of the 4500 block of Harcourt Road, was arrested on Monday night.  Detectives are still looking to identify the two remaining suspects and are asking anyone with information regarding their identities or Moore’s whereabouts to contact police. 

Police remind residents that real officers wear badges on their vests and have police I.D.

Source: WJZ

NTSB to Investigate Massive Silver Spring Apartment Explosion, Fire

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into a massive explosion and fire at a Silver Spring, Maryland, apartment building last week.  Seven people were killed in the blast at the Flower Branch Apartments in the 8700 block of Arliss Street on Aug. 10. The body of the seventh victim was located Tuesday.  The NTSB, which may be better known for investigating airline or train accidents, also investigates accidents involving the transport of natural gas, gasoline or propane through pipeline systems.  The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is already investigating, with the help of Montgomery County fire investigators.  Investigators said Tuesday they hope to have more information about the cause of the explosion by the end of the week.


Read more at NBC 4

ATF helps investigate pipe bomb-like explosion that damaged Thurmont police SUV

A metal pipe-bomb-like device was set off and damaged a Thurmont police vehicle early Wednesday, according to the department.  Residents began calling 911 at about 12:30 a.m. near Clark Avenue after hearing what sounded like an explosion, according to a news release from the police department. A woman noticed that a Thurmont police vehicle parked nearby was damaged and alerted authorities, who found that an explosive device of some kind had been detonated, said Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler.

“One of my officers went to his residence and parked his cruiser on the street as he usually does at about midnight and then around 12:30, one of the neighbors heard a big explosion. ... It looked like a metal pipe bomb was detonated on the hood and the windshield of the cruiser,” Eyler said.

No one was hurt by the explosion. Thurmont police were receiving assistance from the Frederick County Fire Marshal’s Office, the county sheriff’s office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Eyler said.  Remnants of the explosive device were recovered from the SUV, a marked Chevrolet Tahoe, and authorities were trying to determine the components of the device, Eyler said.

“We’ll be checking numerous hardware stores to maybe see where the metal pipe was purchased from. ... We’re just trying to get everything together,” Eyler said. “It’s still a very preliminary investigation at this point.”

Multiple ATF agents, including an explosives enforcement officer, a certified explosives specialist and a special agent K-9 handler, responded early Wednesday, said David Cheplak, a public information officer for the ATF’s Baltimore field office.

“We’re going to provide all the resources that we have. Speaking in generalities, we have our national laboratory relatively close by in Beltsville, Maryland,” Cheplak said. “So we’ll be able to take any evidence that may be available and put that in the hands of our experts that work these types of incidents.”

Eyler confirmed that evidence collected from the scene was being taken to the ATF laboratory in Beltsville for further analysis.

Anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area or who can help police with the investigation was asked to call the Thurmont Police Department at 301-271-0905.


Source: Frederick News Post