Earl J. Huber, 71, a retired police detective and fire investigator in Prince George's County, died Wednesday at Leland Memorial Hospital after a long illness.

He had been appointed to the county police department in 1937, and retired with the rank of captain in 1966. He held more than 50 commendations for meritorious service.

After serving as chief of detectives from 1961 to 1965, Mr. Huber was detailed to the county fire marshal's office to train arson investigators during his last year as a policeman.

He then was appointed by the fire department as an investigator and later specialized in juvenile fire-related crimes.

Mr. Huber worked closely with the county's board of education in an attempt to reduce the number of false fire alarms and arson in the schools. He retired for a second time at the end of last year.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Mr. Huber served with the Army for 11 years before coming to the Washington area in about 1935. He was called to active duty in World War II, and served as a first sergeant with military police.

He was chief of police of Laurel for a year before joining the county police force.

Mr. Huber was a member of the Monumental Lodge of the Masons, Prince George's County Lodge No. 1778 of the Elks and the First Baptist Church of Laurel.

He is survived by his wife, Emma Pearl, of the home in Laurel; a son, David, and a daughter, Jacqueline, both of Laurel, and another daughter, Ellen Sessions, of Coral Gables, Fla.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the organ fund of the First Baptist Church.