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Man Charged After Setting Fire at Cumberland Union Rescue Mission

November 15th, 2022 by WCBC Radio

A joint investigation between the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Cumberland Fire Marshals Office led to the arrest of a man staying at the Union Rescue Mission Monday. 

Keith Wayne Bergdoll, 31, was charged after they determined he was responsible for setting his bunk bed on fire. Investigators learned that Bergdoll set the fire while his roommate was asleep in the top bunk and walked away. He reportedly told investigators he started the fire hoping to make the homeless shelter safer. He was concerned after discovering a smoke alarm was not in his bedroom. 

Just before 8:000 a.m., Cumberland Fire Department was dispatched for a fire at the Union Rescue Mission located at 16 Gulf Memorial Drive. When they arrived, they were told an employee had quickly extinguished a fire in one of the bedrooms. Cumberland Fire Department Fire Marshal's Office, Cumberland Police, and the Office of the State Fire Marshal later responded. 

The Union Rescue Mission is a homeless shelter that serves Western Maryland. At the time of the fire, the shelter had approximately twenty-two men and workers inside. Another building was connected, which housed another twenty-two females. The fire caused around $2,000 in damages, and nobody was injured. 

State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci commended the investigators' efforts to bring the case to a close quickly. "The arrest of this suspect reveals our partnership with our fire investigation and law enforcement agencies and their outstanding commitment to Maryland's citizens. Setting a fire within a homeless shelter where some of our most vulnerable go to stay warm on one of the first cold nights in Maryland is a despicable act. Anyone, including Mr. Bergdoll, could have called our agency or the Cumberland Fire Department, and we would have promptly responded and corrected the situation". stated Geraci. 

Bergdoll was charged with First Degree Arson and two counts of Second Degree Malicious Burning. He is currently being held without bond at Allegany County Detention Center.