CHARLES COUNTY, Md. (January 02, 2011) Deputy State Fire Marshals have charged a Waldorf man with 1st Degree Arson in connection with the December 29 fire at McDonalds restaurant in Waldorf. Mark Elliot Merritt, age 18, also faces charges of 2nd Degree Arson and 1st Degree Malicious Burning in the igniting of combustible items in the store room of the restaurant located at 3300 Leonardtown Road.
The 5:49 p.m. fire caused an estimated $1,500 damage to the structure and contents of the store room area. Deputy State Fire Marshals determined the point of origin for the fire was cardboard boxes that were deliberately ignited with a lighter. Investigators were able to determine the defendant was working at the time of the fire.
Employees used portable fire extinguishers to contain the blaze until the arrival of the fire department. Firefighters from Waldorf Fire Department completed extinguishment of the blaze within one minute.
There were no injuries reported during the incident.
Merritt was arrested on a warrant Saturday without incident with the assistance of the Charles County Sheriffs Office and transported to the Charles County Detention Center. He is currently awaiting review before a District Court Commissioner.
If convicted of these charges, Merritt faces penalties of up to 55 years imprisonment and/or $85,000 in fines.
Fire Marshals are still working to determine the defendants motive.