Urbana garage fire suspects arrested, charged with arson and theft

The fires caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. (Photo: Kim Suiters/WJLA)

Four juveniles have been arrested in connection with a series of fires in Urbana homes, Frederick County Sheriff's officials say.

On Monday night, two fires that were set in near garages in a densely-populated Urbana neighborhood caused a combined $130,000 in damage. Authorities say that a search of the area concluded that marine flares were the ignition source in both blazes and that arson was the cause.

A Sheriff's investigation found that a significant number of flares had been shoplifted from a Walmart on Guilford Drive several hours before the fires were set. Surveillance video identified several suspects and a suspect vehicle, and after being brought in, the suspects confessed to not only the two Monday fires but another incident in which a flare was thrown onto a deck on McPherson Street on Dec. 23.

Authorities charged four 16-year-olds--three of whom live in the Villages of Urbana and a fourth that lives in the greater Urbana area--with second degree arson, conspiracy to commit arson, and theft. All of the suspects were released to their parents' custody on Tuesday night.

Authorities don't believe any of the homes were specifically targeted. According to officials, the teens just wanted to frighten the neighborhood.

"One of the most disturbing things from the confession was that they just wanted to have fun and thought they'd freak out the neighborhood," said Fire Task Force Cpl. Jason West.

The arrests have brought relief to the nearly 6,000 residents living in the neighborhood.

"My mom said she couldn't sleep the last two nights," said resident Phillip Jones, an Urbana High School student.

The first fire broke out at about 10:45 p.m. Monday in the 3700 block of Singleton Terrace, while the second broke out about five minutes later in the 3900 block of Addison Woods Road. No injures were reported in either incident.