MCFRS News Release
Arson Arrest in Takoma Park
Local Youth Involved in Several Weekend Fires
Fire Investigators from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service have arrested and charged a Takoma Park youth, age 16, for his involvement in numerous fires this weekend that occurred early Saturday morning, August 12 and again early this morning, Sunday, August 13, 2006. The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Montgomery County Arson Tipline at 240.777.2263.
At least three vehicles were a total loss and several others were damaged resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in damage. There were other small fires and attempted arsons within a several block area. Takoma Park Police had increased patrols and were able to detain one youth near the scene early this morning Sunday, August 13, 2006. The 16 year-old youth was arrested and charged by Montgomery County Fire and Explosive Investigators. He is being detained at the Noyes Juvenile Detention Center, in Rockville.
Most recently, around 4:15 a.m., Sunday, August 13, 2006 units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service were dispatched initially for a report of a house on fire in the 400 block of Beech Avenue (near Woodland Avenue), in Takoma Park.
Takoma Park Police Department patrol officers were in the area and saw visible flames, initially thought to be coming from a house, near the intersection of Woodland Avenue and Beech Avenue. First arriving firefighters encountered a “fully engulfed in flame” passenger vehicle which was parked close to an unoccupied house in an off street driveway. The fire was quickly extinguished. There were no injuries.
In addition to the vehicle fire on this Sunday morning, a small fire was also discovered around 4:30 a.m. in the vicinity of the Forest Park located nearby at the intersection of Prince George’s Avenue and Elm Avenue. The fire was intentionally set. Damage was minimal and there were no injuries.
Early Saturday morning units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service were kept busy from around 1:00 a.m. until about 5 a.m. During that time there were several intentionally set fires, or attempts to set fires to vehicles and other items with in a several block area in Takoma Park. Fires occurred in the 7000 block of Sycamore Avenue, 6400 block of Westmoreland Avenue, 100 block of Elm Avenue, unit block of Hickory Avenue and on Poplar Avenue.
Montgomery County Fire and Explosive Investigators, working in conjunction with Takoma Park Police were able to make the arrest. The investigation is continuing. Information from the community aided the investigation.
Montgomery County Fire Chief Tom Carr says,” The collective work of this team of fire investigators and patrol officers is to be commended. Not only are the responsible persons being held accountable for their actions, their detention also means the community is safer.” Chief Carr adds “Each year, arson causes millions of dollars in losses to individuals, insurers, and the local government. These losses affect everyone. The worst consequences, however, are not financial, but personal. These fires have affected the entire community. Arson can also be dangerous crime to a victim, to the fire setter, to fire fighters and to the community. ”
The 16 year-old Takoma Park youth is being charged with three (3) counts of Second Degree Arson, five (5) counts of attempted Second Degree Arson, six (6) counts of Malicious Burning. Other charges are pending.
Steps that can be taken to reduce the incidents of arson:
- Report suspicious activity near vehcles, schools, houses or other buildings to the local police and support Neighborhood Watch programs.
- Keep vehicles locked. Park vehilces in lighted areas whenever possible.
- Keep leaves, firewood, overgrown brush and shrubbery and other combustibles trimmed and away from buildings. Most arson and related intentionally set fires are started outdoors. Don't make it easy for an arsonist to start a fire or in any case make it easy for an outdoor fire to spread to a building.
- Keep doors and windows locked when a building is unoccupied. Have a fire alarm system, functional smoke alarms and/or a fire sprinkler system. In some instances, video survellence may be appropriate.
- If you suspect a young child is setting fires or playing with fire notify the proper authorities, it may not be ''just a phase'' they are going through. Keep matches and lighters out of reach and out of sight of young children. Contact Operation Extinguish at 240-777-2448.