On April 6, 2010 around 4:30 am Montgomery County Fire and Rescue units were originally dispatched to the unit block Oceania Avenue for a house fire. While units responded, the Emergency Communications Center provided additional information indicating an unknown fire to the rear of Gaithersburg High School (314 South Frederick Avenue). Fire and Rescue personnel from Station 8 (Gaithersburg) arrived on the scene to find the press box behind home plate on fire. The fire was quickly extinguished and Montgomery County Fire and Explosive investigators were requested to the scene for an origin and cause investigation. Fire and Explosives investigators determined the fire to be incendiary in nature.
A joint investigation began and included Montgomery County Fire and Explosive investigators, Gaithersburg City Police, District of Columbia Fire Department accelerant canine (FM203) and Montgomery County Public Schools security which includes the Educational Facilities Officer. The accelerant canine alerted investigators to ignitable liquids along an area of the burned press box. The press box contained the public announcement system, athletic equipment for the baseball program and grounds maintenance equipment. Damage was estimated at over $20,000 (building structure and contents).
On Wednesday, April 14, 2010 Montgomery County Fire and Explosive Investigators arrested 2 individuals for their involvement in this incendiary fire. Fire and Explosive investigators made the arrest of Zachariah Maurer (DOB 3/24/1992) of Gaithersburg and charged him with one count each of the following: 2nd Degree Arson, 1st Degree Malicious Burning, Conspiracy to Commit 2nd Degree Arson, Conspiracy to Commit 1st Degree Malicious Burning, Disrupting School Activities and two counts of Trespassing/Destroying school property. Bond status for Zachariah Maurer is unknown at the time of this release. A 16 year old male juvenile was also arrested and released to his parents under house arrest and a juvenile hearing is scheduled for Thursday April 15, 2010. Charges for a second 16 year old juvenile are pending.
Arson is one of the leading causes of property loss due to fire in Montgomery County, Maryland and in the United States. Nationally, one-fourth of all fires are arson and over one-half of them are set by juveniles. Fire and Explosive Investigators are asking anyone with information about arson fires to contact the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service ARSON Tip Line at 240-777-2263.