Police and Fire briefs, April 8, 2020

Submitted to Dorchester Banner/NDVFC

Arson arrest
Investigators from the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office were alerted to an incident that occurred at Dart Manufacturing Facility on 1000 Industrial Park Drive in Federalsburg on March 31st around 2 a.m. The investigation revealed an employee at the facility intentionally set a fire in a confined space above the ceiling of the office area, while the building was occupied and operating.
The employee responsible for setting the fire was identified as Joshua Vallejo, 37, who had been employed at the facility for about two years. He was subsequently charged with Arson First Degree, Malicious Burning First Degree, Malicious Destruction of Property and Reckless Endangerment.
Mr. Vallejo was arrested Monday and is currently being held without bond at Caroline County Detention Center.
The fire caused approximately $1,000 in damages at the facility. No fire department personnel were requested at the time of the fire, and the fire was extinguished by employees of Dart. The Caroline County Sheriff’s Office and Federalsburg Police Department assisted in the investigation and arrest.

Fire Marshal’s message
• Many local businesses have recently taken steps to limit the number of customers in their stores in an effort to comply with social distancing requirements. These restrictions have generated statewide concerns from citizens and patrons of the businesses over fears of fire code violations.
The State Fire Prevention Code does not require a minimum number of entrances into any mercantile store, a statement from the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal said. Stores are permitted to restrict entrances to a smaller number than normal. However, it is essential that all required interior emergency exits are clear of any obstructions and available in the event of an emergency.
These exits are permitted to be marked as “for use in an emergency only” with signs or employees posted at the exits. Obstructions such as carts, shelving, temporary walls, or other items would not be permitted by the State Fire Prevention Code and must be removed immediately.
State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci encourages all mercantile operators and patrons to promote and use current guidelines on essential travel and social distancing. In the course of this public health emergency, existing fire safety protection requirements should continue to be maintained.
Delaware checkpoint

• The Delaware State Police conducted a checkpoint Friday morning in the Northern Plaza area, as a measure to enforce Governor Carney’s order restricting out-of-state travelers’ entry into Delaware. On Thursday evening, troopers also conducted directed patrols on non-interstate roadways in the Claymont area.
The Governor’s State of Emergency Declaration specifically addresses the requirement for out-of-state persons traveling into Delaware to self-quarantine for 14 days. This order authorizes any Delaware law enforcement officer to stop a vehicle driving within the state simply because it is displaying an out-of-state tag. This authorization does not apply to vehicles traveling on I-95, I-295, or I-495.
Vehicles with out-of-state tags were stopped, with the driver being asked limited questions related to their recent travel and purpose for entering Delaware. The driver was then informed of the Governor’s declaration and told if they are coming into Delaware, they are required to self-quarantine for 14 days or immediately return to their home state.
Delaware State Police Troop 1 Commander, Captain John Laird, who oversaw the operation, said the interactions were productive and non-confrontational. Those being stopped were appreciative of being made aware of the governor’s order.
During the interactions the Troopers stressed that the primary purpose of the stop was to inform and to educate as opposed to it being a criminal enforcement initiative, although violating the order does constitute a criminal offense. There were no citations issued or arrests made during the operation, which saw approximately 500 vehicles proceed through the checkpoint.
Directed patrols throughout the state will continue.

PRMC Alert
Peninsula Regional Medical Center posted a message Saturday, saying: “Attention, PRMC Employees.
“Our Special Police Force at PRMC has been notified that Delaware authorities are stopping vehicles with out-of-state tags and inquiring into the purpose of your travel in Delaware. Governor Carney has authorized police to stop vehicles, and has imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone from outside the state staying in Delaware.
“It is critical for you to have your PRMC identification badge with you if you own a vehicle tagged outside Delaware and you are traveling into Delaware for business at one of our satellite locations or Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. As a healthcare employee, you are essential during this time.
“Your badge will allow you to travel into Delaware to conduct your business. Please make sure you have your hospital ID badge with you at all times, just to be safe.”

Attempted incident
• The Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal is investigating an attempted structure fire that occurred March 30 at 12:30 p.m. at 5521 Andrews Road, Crapo in a two-story, wood-framed structure owned by Donald Willey. There were no injuries, deaths or arrests as a result of the incident.
There was no monetary value to the damage, and no fire department responded. Mr. Willey discovered the attempted fire in the interior of the building.
The fire marshal’s report listed the preliminary cause as “incendiary.” Anyone with information should contact the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Lower Eastern Region Office at 410-713-3780.

Truck fire
• The Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal investigated an incident that occurred March 31 at 11:50 a.m. at 4934 Drawbridge Road, Cambridge. A 2003 Dodge Ram pick-up truck owned by Ly Curtis burned, causing $10,500 damage to the vehicle and its contents.
Linkwood-Salem Volunteer Fire Department responded to the emergency with seven firefighters, controlling the fire in 20 minutes. There were no injuries, deaths or arrests. The fire originated in the engine compartment. It was discovered by the owner, and was determined to be accidental.
NDVFC welcomes Colton
• Members of the Neck District Volunteer Fire Co. (NDVFC) posted on March 31 the following message: “On behalf of the officers of the NDVFC we would like to welcome our newest responder to the trucks. Our last junior member, Colton Holliday, turns 16 today and is now able to respond and start taking his classes to become a fire and/or EMS responder. Happy birthday, Colton!”