A Bowie man died early yesterday in an apparently accidental house fire, and Prince George's County fire officials said the death could have been prevented by a smoke detector.

Eldridge Scott, 41, was pronounced dead at the scene of the fire at 16407 Old Central Ave., county fire department spokesman Tony DeStefano said. Scott was the house's only occupant.

The blaze, which broke out at 3:25 a.m., engulfed the front of the single-family home but was brought under control 10 minutes after firefighters arrived.

The cause of the fire, which left about $40,000 damage, was still under investigation yesterday, but DeStefano said it appeared accidental.

"There was no apparent smoke detector in the dwelling, a smoke detector which could have possibly saved this individual's life," DeStefano said.

He urged area residents to buy a smoke detector or replace the batteries of those in place.

A smoke detector without batteries was one reason cited for the fact that a family in Seat Pleasant was not alerted to a blaze on Thanksgiving that killed six children, fire officials said.

The Thanksgiving fire, which was caused by two children playing with matches in their living rooom, began when some school supplies were ignited and spread to a love seat cushion.

The blaze quickly engulfed the ceiling of the first floor and trapped the other children upstairs, fire officials said.

In another incident yesterday, an Alexandria man allegedly set fire to a condemned boarding house that he had entered earlier in the day, Alexandria fire officials said. They had not determined the cause of the blaze at 209 Commerce St.

Alexandria police charged Leonard Wood of 813 N. Alfred St. with trespassing. He was treated for smoke inhalation on the scene, but refused hospitalization.

A fire, caused by someone smoking in bed, broke out in the same three-story red brick building four days ago and displaced its eight residents. Wood was not one of the former residents, fire officials said. The total damage from the two fires was about $100,000.

Staff writer David Hilzenrath contributed to this report.