Note: The following account is taken from a report released last week by the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office.

Before deputy Kim Lane took the 10-year-old arson suspect to jail Dec. 21 she took him to lunch at Taco Bell. The child, who had just admitted to starting a Thanksgiving morning fire at Wayne Frier’s Mobile Home Sales as well as a smaller fire at the same location the night before, noticed something outside the window while waiting in line. The Holiday Inn Express motel next door was undergoing some kind of renovation. According to Lane’s report, the child “became excited and pointed it out to me saying, ‘Look, it looks just like a fire after it turned to ashes’.”

Lane’s report indicates the child has “commented about fires” in the past and that his friends say he enjoys destroying cigarette lighters. He also applies flammable chemicals, such as hair spray, “to make the flames higher,” according to the report.

The Thanksgiving fire began at about 4 a.m. Nov. 23. Eight mobiles homes used as storage sheds were damaged or destroyed. Engines from Suwannee County Fire and Rescue and Live Oak Fire Department responded, as did units from the Falmouth, Wellborn and McAlpin volunteer fire departments. The blaze was contained before it could spread to other nearby structures, including a mobile home park. The loss was estimated at $85,000.

The second fire began at about 1:45 a.m. Dec. 21. Firefighters contained the blaze to a single mobile home in the Wayne Frier sales lot.

After admitting his involvement to Lane, the suspect explained to Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office investigator Chris Fry how he set the fires, according to Fry’s report. In both cases, said the report, he sneaked out of his home with notebook paper and a lighter, which he used to ignite the structures. The child said he also tried to ignite the sales office by stuffing dead grass into a vent and lighting it, Fry wrote. The sales office was not damaged.

The suspect was taken from the county jail to a juvenile detention center in Gainesville, but state law prevented Department of Juvenile Justice officials from revealing whether he is still in custody.

Robert Bridges can be reached by calling 386-362-1734 ext. 134 or by e-mail at robert.bridges@gaflnews.com

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