POLICE: Suspect arrested in fatal house fire death in Bethesda

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BETHESDA, Md - Major Crimes detectives have arrested Daniel Beckwitt, age 27, of 5200 block of Danbury Rd in Bethesda, for offenses related to death of Askia Khafra, age 22. On 9/10/17, MCP & Fire & Rescue personnel responded to Beckwitt’s Danbury Rd home for the report of a fire. During the investigation, Khafra was located deceased in basement of home.

BETHESDA, Md. – The home where a young man died in a house fire in September 2017 stands on unsteady ground. In fact, the claim in a new lawsuit filed by Montgomery County calls it a danger to the community.

The problem stems from unauthorized tunnels dug by the homeowners, identified at David and Daniel Beckwitt. Authorities believe the tunnels likely stretch beyond the property line toward Danbury Road and into other another adjoining lot.

Askia Khafra, 21, of Silver Spring was killed in that fire. An autopsy determined Khafra died from smoke inhalation. An investigation into what caused the fire and a separate investigation by police into matters inside the home are both still ongoing.

The Beckwitts have not shed much light on the reason for and the construction of the tunnels leading to efforts by the county to have the home demolished and the tunnels filled in.

Neighbors have been frustrated with the home since it was condemned shortly after the fire. Reports from emergency responders after the fire describe the “hoarders”-like conditions inside the home and hazardous materials inside the tunnels. For months, trash has been piled up in the front and back yards and neighbors said they have noticed rats in the yard.

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