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Dozens Displaced By Chevy Chase Arson

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Catherine Miller surveys the damage to her home after it was gutted by fire.
Armando Trull
Catherine Miller surveys the damage to her home after it was gutted by fire.

Montgomery County fire and rescue investigators have charged a 24-year-old Chevy Chase man with first degree arson, after he started a fire that damaged more than 30 apartments in a residential neighborhood.

According to police, Abraham Ogazgi Kiflu voluntarily confessed to starting the fire during an interview.

It's easy to understand how more than $1 million in damage was done — the building's roof is entirely gone, windows are blown out, and dozens of displaced residents are left to mill in the parking lot.

"We're trying to see what's salvageable and when we can go get our stuff back," said resident Jo Temenkir. "From there, we're just looking for new housing. It's horrible — unexpected. I feel like we know most of the people around, you'd never expect anything like that."

Two firefighters suffered non-life threatening injuries from the three-alarm blaze. No residents were hurt, but the fire has displaced more than 100 people.

Surveying her gutted apartment, roofless and covered with ash, resident Catherine Miller was philosophical: "I'm a spiritual person, I don't get into judgment. And, if I could, I would give [Kiflu] a hug, because I am sure he is devastated by his action. I wish him well. I wish myself well, I wish all the residents here well."

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