Two Germantown area teenagers were arrested on Thursday afternoon in connection with setting the fire which destroyed a home on Falconcrest Circle in Germantown last week.
Montgomery County Fire Investigators arrested two 13-year-old juveniles for setting the fire which destroyed the home of the belonging to Michael Riggs and his family at 17809 Falconcrest Circle. The unidentified teens have been arrested on charges of Arson in the First Degree, a Felony; Malicious Burning in the First Degree, a Felony; Malicious Destruction of Property, a misdemeanor; and Reckless Endangerment, a Misdemeanor, according to Pete Piringer, senior spokesman for MCFRS.
The fire struck the home at about 4:45 pm on Wednesday, Oct. 28. Neighbors called 911 to report that the back of the house was on fire. First arriving firefighters encountered heavy fire in the large three-story home. Fire officials, believe the fire started in the rear outside of the house and quickly consumed much of the rear exterior walls and up into the attic.
Three MCFRS firefighters suffered non-life threatening injuries fighting the fire.
Fire investigators received some information from members of from the community. Investigators followed up and that eventually led to persons of interest and the arrests, said Piringer. The suspects were arrested and charged by Fire Investigators at First District Police station. Both teens were released to their guardians after processing, according to Piringer.
If convicted, the charge of felony arson carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000. The charge felony of Malicious Burning in the First Degree carries a punishment of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both.
The family of four was be displaced as a result of the fire, which officials estimate did more than $400,000 in damage to the residence, which suffered significant fire, smoke, water damage.
Prior to this breaking news, the community had begun to rally around the family to help them through these difficult times with a GoFundMe account to pay for some of the additional expenses brought on by the fire, which fire officials say was intentionally set.
The Riggs family has two children, Chaya Riggs is a senior at Northwest High School and Billy Riggs is an eighth grader at Kingsview Middle School.
The GoFundMe.com account was set up by two eighth graders at Kingsview Middle School. One of them is 13-year-old Taylor Sinclair, a classmate at Kingsview. “Billy is truthfully one of the kindest people I’ve ever met,” said Taylor Sinclair. “I just wanted to help out Billy and his family because they lost a lot that day. The least I could do was try to make it easier for them to rebuild what they had.”
“This was important for me because I'm the type of person who doesn't want anyone to go through what Billy and his family have to go through,” said Taylor Sinclair. “Imagine losing everything; clothing, books, photos, electronics, trophies, stuffed animals. It's one of the hardest things in the world and I think that his family is so brave for dealing with it so well. They didn't deserve what happened to them.”
At the time of the fire, Billy was home and was able to escape to safety while is older sister Chaya was at Northwest High School preparing for her final volleyball game of the season the following night. Chaya Riggs is a senior on the Northwest team which is about to begin the playoffs after the finishing the school’s first ever undefeated volleyball season. As a junior last year, Chaya was a leader on the team that made it to the finals of the 4A Maryland State championship.
Anyone with further information about this incident is asked to call MCFRS Arson Tip line at (240) 777-2263 or the office of Fire & Explosive Investigations at (240) 777-2255.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.