Employee charged with arson in three-alarm tire store fire
The man charged last week with setting a three-alarm fire at a Northwest Baltimore tire store was a longtime employee who was burned in the incident, court documents show.
Jason Hicks, 35, was charged with first-degree arson after he told investigators that he flicked a lighter near a brush being used by a co-worker and which was covered in tar and gasoline, court records show. That ignited a bucket of gasoline, which Hicks said he tried to take outside until it started to burn him. When he dropped the bucket, the back area of the shop went up in flames, police said.
The fire caused an estimated $170,000 in damage and took more than a day to contain. As of Monday morning, Hicks was being held on $150,000 bond.
Records show that Hicks and another employee, Derrick Powell, were painting stacks of tires with a mixture of tar and gasoline to "make them look shiny." Hicks said that Powell took a brush that he had been using, and that he twice told Powell he was using his brush, according to charging documents. He then took a lighter out of his pocket and flicked it at the brush, causing it to ignite, records show.
Hicks initially told police that he had been smoking a cigarette, and later acknowledged that he had not been truthful after detectives spoke to other employees, records show. He was hospitalized with second-degree burns to his right arm from the elbow down to his fingers.