This story was updated at 2:20 p.m. on June 28, 2012.
Fire and rescue officials say they are investigating a fire that started in a Silver Spring barbershop as arson.
Capt. Oscar Garcia of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue said crews were called at 2:35 a.m. Thursday to the report of a fire at 936 Bonifant St., Silver Spring, listed as Ebony Barbers Unisex.
Crews found heavy smoke and fire in the front of the store, Garcia said.
Firefighters at the scene called arson investigators after no source of ignition — often electrical wiring or appliances — was found where the fire started, Garcia said. Investigators declared the fire a possible arson after fire accelerant-sniffing dogs detected some kind of accelerant, such as gasoline or lighter fluid, inside the barbershop.
Garcia said investigators have not yet determined what was used to spark the fire. No arrests have been made.
No one was injured in the fire. Damage to the building was estimated at $100,000.
“It’s just heartbreaking,” said Edward Kerrick Jr. of Kensington, who has worked as a barber at the shop for about six months. “I love this shop. I love the people I work with — we’re like family. We’re all worried for one another.”
Kerrick said fire and water damage destroyed his clippers, his most important tool.
“This is the way we make a living. We need to eat,” he added.
Police say they were called to the same barbershop the night before the fire, at 11:47 p.m. June 27, after someone saw a man break the front window of the shop with a baseball bat. Montgomery County police spokeswoman Lucille Baur said police searched the area, but did not find the man. No arrests were made.
Police and barbershop employees think this man could be involved in the possible arson.
On June 15, Baur said, employees opening the barbershop called police around 7:30 a.m. to report that the front window had been broken, likely between when the shop closed the night before and that morning. No suspects were identified in this incident and no arrests were made.This incident, however, came within days of a babershop employee being confronted by an unidentified man at the Capital One Bank down the street, Kerrick said.
On June 18, employees again called police, this time at 9:45 a.m., to report a vandalism. Baur said she could not describe the vandalism, but noted fire marshals were called to investigate. Store employees said someone set fire to storefront flowers and broke a window. No arrests were made.
Daniel Dunbar of Bowie has worked at Ebony for more than six years, and said rebuilding is estimated to take two to three weeks. Until then, he said, he will be out of a job and sitting around “just hoping.”
“We’ve had such a good relationship with all of the businesses on the block and the community, so this is sort of a shock,” said Cynthia Parker, owner of Silver Spring Books located next door to Ebony. “It’s always been a friendly community. Businesses have always been very supportive of one another.”
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the county’s arson tip line at 240-777-2263.