- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
After initially alerting authorities to the fire, two young boys have been charged with starting the Aug. 22 blaze that destroyed a structure on the estate of the late novelist Tom Clancy.
The boys, ages 12 and 14, were charged with second-degree arson after admitting to “igniting combustibles in the living room portion of the structure,” a two-story, wood frame dwelling that was unoccupied, according to a Aug. 29 press release from the Maryland State Fire Marshal. No one was injured, although the estimated loss is worth $149,000.
The fire occurred around 5 p.m. Aug. 22, and Bruce D. Bouch, spokesperson for the Office of the State Fire Marshal, said it was the boys who made the 911 call. But when their story of having simply seen the blaze did not jibe, they confessed.
The fire did not affect the main mansion on the estate.
The juveniles, both of whom Bouch said are from the Dares Beach community, allegedly started the fire with paper and other debris. Bouch also noted that the structure, which had once been a servants’ quarters, was dilapidated and had not been maintained, possibly making it easier for the boys to enter.
The fire took 15 minutes to control, according to the press release, requiring the efforts of the Huntingtown, Prince Frederick and Benedict volunteer fire departments. Because of limited access to the site, firefighters had to use smaller “brush trucks” instead of their normal vehicles, Bouch said. While a regular fire truck can hold between 1,000 and 1,500 gallons of water, the brush trucks’ smaller tanks generally accommodate between 100 and 250.
For an adult, Bouch said, arson is considered a felony, but the punishment of the boys will be left up to the president of the Department of Juvenile Services and possible the public school system, where sanctions could involve expulsion.
For now, according to the press release, the boys have been released to the custody of parents pending action by the Department of Juvenile Services.
A New York Times bestselling author, Clancy died in October 2013, according to his website.