An arsonist broke into a new house in Calvert County early Monday morning and set a fire that destroyed the $250,000 two-story, wood-frame structure. The house was in its final stages of construction and was owned by Bay Mills Construction Co., although it was under contract to buyers who intended to settle on the house today, said Chuck Dammann, deputy state fire marshal.

Dammann said someone entered the house at 9600 S. Pine Point in Owings and used unknown materials to set the fire and keep it burning in a first-floor hallway. A motorist passing through the new subdivision reported the fire about 5:30 a.m. Monday by calling 911 on a cellular phone. Four fire departments responded to the call and 22 firefighters extinguished the blaze in about half an hour, according to a fire marshal's report of the incident.

"I was in shock," said Avis Rutter, sales construction coordinator at Bay Mills, describing how she felt when told of the fire. "I don't understand why anyone would do this. It didn't serve any purpose."

Rutter said Bay Mills will begin rebuilding the house as soon as allowed by the company's insurance and the fire marshal. There are no suspects or motives in the arson investigation at this point, Dammann said.