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Someone set fire to the chapel at Potomac Heights Baptist Church in Indian Head on Wednesday morning, causing about $80,000 in damage, the Maryland State Fire Marshal reported.

The fire was set around 6:30 a.m. and discovered by a church employee, who called 911 after seeing smoke billowing out of the church. The flames burned out prior to arrival of the Potomac Heights and Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division fire departments.

"Fortunately, the fire didn't grow very large," and burned out in its early stages before it could spread outside of the chapel and to the Potomac Heights Christian Academy, which is housed inside the church and did not have to close for the day, Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Duane K. Svites said.

Investigators determined accelerants were poured into the sanctuary through a broken window and ignited. The fire damaged carpeting, four upholstered chairs and the interior wall of the church before burning out.

Svites said the fire was "definitely an arson" and that most of the damage was a result of soot and smoke. Restoration crews were busy cleaning up the chapel Wednesday afternoon.

Anyone with information regarding this fire should call the fire marshal's Southern Regional Office at 410-550-6820 or the arson hotline at 800-492-7529.

"We need some help on this one," Svites said. "A place of worship, obviously, gets a lot of notoriety."

jnewman@somdnews.com