BALTIMORE — A 20-year-old man was arrested after a firefighter was injured in what officials are calling an arson at an Advance Auto Parts store Tuesday evening in Reisterstown.
Mayday, a distress signal, was called at 9:44 p.m. at the Advance Auto Parts store in a shopping plaza in the 11900 block of Reisterstown Road, where a three-alarm fire raged.
Police said Elijah Morgan has been charged with first-degree arson. He was located at the scene of the fire.
Police said Morgan was taken to an area hospital for a mental evaluation.
Firefighters said the flames were difficult to extinguish because of the materials inside the building.
According to the Baltimore County Fire Department, a lieutenant was injured after part of the ceiling fell on them while battling the fire.
A rescue team was sent inside to rescue him.
“He was disoriented, but he was OK,” a Baltimore County Fire spokesperson said.
Officials said the firefighter was removed from the fire and treated with non-life-threatening injuries. He has since been released from the hospital.
Units stayed on the scene through early Wednesday morning putting out hot spots, but the building was deemed a total loss, fire officials said, and that the store will be torn down.
“An auto parts store has a very heavy fire load,” fire officials said. “There’s flammable materials. There’s petroleum-based products, there’s rubber, there’s fuel. They’re all kinds of materials that can burn.”
Drone video from a WJZ viewer showed the aftermath of the fire.
“I just couldn’t believe it because nothing like this really happens,” said Reisterstown resident Myles Taylor.
Baltimore County Police said officers responded around 9:30 p.m. — minutes before the fire was reported — to an armed robbery at a nearby Royal Farms. The suspect, who allegedly had a handgun, took money before taking off on foot, police said.
Police have not said if the two incidents might be connected.
Reisterstown residents said the shopping center was recently remodeled.
“it’s a shame to see them tear this down,” Charles Sless said. “That’s all you know. They’ll have to rebuild something from scratch.”