The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office announced that a 12-year-old boy is facing arson and numerous other charges for allegedly igniting a marine flare on a school bus filled with students, causing it to go up in flames in Chestertown earlier this month. Investigators said that on the morning of March 5, while the bus was on its way to Chestertown Middle School, the flare gun ignited the pre-loaded flare, causing everyone to evacuate the bus along Chestertown Road in Chestertown. Authorities said the bus driver quickly evacuated the students from the bus before it went up in flames. Seven students were treated for minor smoke inhalation injuries and were released from Chester River Hospital Center. The remaining 21 students were evaluated at the scene by Kent County Emergency Medical Services and subsequently transported to Chestertown Middle School.
The school bus is considered to be a total loss with an estimated $45,000 in damages. Authorities said the investigation that followed revealed the 12-year-old had the loaded flare gun inside a bag in his possession when it was discharged and ignited the flare causing the immediate evacuation and subsequent heavy fire damage of the school bus. The boy has been charged with first- and second-degree arson, first- and second-degree malicious burning, bringing a deadly weapon on school property, carrying/transporting a handgun, disturbing the peace and 28 counts of reckless endangerment. He has been referred to the Kent County Department of Juvenile Services and remains in the custody of his mother.