A Frederick County District Court judge sitting in Washington County on Wednesday set bond at $50,000 for a man who is charged with starting a fire that gutted a house Friday night near Antietam National Battlefield.
Citing a concern for public safety, Judge Janice Ambrose increased the bond for Max Eugene Godlove from $20,000 to $50,000 during a bond review hearing.
The hearing was held on a live television feed between Washington County District Court and the Washington County Detention Center.
Godlove, 50, formerly of 6601 Remsburg Road near Sharpsburg, was charged with one count each of first-degree arson, first-degree malicious burning, reckless endangerment and threat of arson.
If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum of 50 years in prison and $70,000 in fines.
Washington County Assistant State’s Attorney Chris McCormack said before Ambrose ruled to increase the bond that Godlove set the fire without considering the safety of people living nearby.
“The state feels the $20,000 bond in this case is low,” McCormack said. “The state feels there’s a public safety issue.”
Washington County Assistant Public Defender Peter Norris told Ambrose that the original $20,000 bond was too high because Godlove’s only source of income was Social Security.
Norris said Godlove wasn’t a flight risk because his family lives in Washington County and he needed to stay in the area to receive medical treatment for several health issues.
Godlove’s estranged wife, Jennifer, spoke on his behalf.
“He’s the most kindest, giving person,” she said.
Firefighters were called at 7:29 p.m. Friday for a report of a fire at 6601 Remsburg Road near Sharpsburg. The fire took 45 firefighters about 90 minutes to get under control.
An investigation determined that witnesses claimed Godlove previously had threatened to burn down the house because “the bank foreclosed on the property and he was being forced out,” according to the statement of charges obtained Wednesday from District Court.
A witness told fire officials shortly after the incident that he saw Godlove smoking a cigar in the house around the time of the fire.
“(The witness) said he was looking into the living room and saw a light flickering,” the statement of probable cause said. “He said that he then saw Max in the bedroom and again there was a flickering light. He said that the flickering light got bigger.”
Court documents said the witness left the scene, told a neighbor to call 911, then returned to the fire.
“He said he went back down to the residence and Max walked out with his beer and cigars and looked at him and said, ‘I told you it would burn.’”
Another witness told fire investigators that Godlove stated in August that “he would burn the house down before the bank would take it from him,” according to the statement of charges.
A firefighter from the First Hose Co. of Boonsboro suffered burns to his face while he was battling the flames, the statement of charges said.
The firefighter was treated at John Hopkins Bayview Burn Center in Baltimore and released Saturday, the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office said.
Authorities said the fire caused about $60,000 in damages to the contents and structure.
Federal National Mortgage Association in Dallas is listed as the seller, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation website.
The primary structure was built in 1857. As of July 1, the property was valued at $89,500, the website said.