ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Fire chief said investigators from Montgomery County Police, Fire and Rescue, and the Alcohol, Tobacco, Explosives and Firearms Bureau continue to investigate the cause of Friday’s house explosion where investigators found the remains of a man and his dog. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled the man’s death a suicide.
As of 7 p.m. on Saturday, the section of Ashley Drive surrounding the site of the explosion was still blocked off.
Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said at a press conference Saturday that investigators from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and ATF were exploring possible causes of Friday’s explosion as well as information about human remains found in the basement. At least 10 other houses were damaged due to the explosion. Pieces of debris were found in the trees and on power lines opposite the house.
Cpl. Rebecca Innocenti, Montgomery County Police spokesperson, said fire investigators on Saturday were the ones who found the human remains, as well as the remains of a dog in close proximity to the victim. The victim’s body was transported to the OCME to conduct an autopsy.
On Sunday, March 19, the OCME identified the victim as the home’s sole resident, Steven Martin Beck, 61. Beck’s death was ruled a suicide by gunshot wound. A necropsy of the dog, a black and white pitbull, determined that the cause of death was also by gunshot wound. Innocenti said MCPD’s Major Crimes Division, MCFRS and the ATF are working together on the investigation.
Several neighbors confirmed that the victim owned a black and white pitbull. One of the neighbors, Bette Walling, said the victim's dog was named Max.
Goldstein said he was not sure the last time either county officials or utilities personnel inspected the house. He said the means by which the resident obtained a gas supply to his house was part of the investigation.
Washington Gas had turned off his gas supply in June 2015, Goldstein said.