Eight youths charged in city arson spree

Canton, Fells Point blazes were started with flares

March 20, 2004|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

THE BOYS — Eight boys have been charged as juveniles with setting several fires during a five-day period in Canton and Fells Point that caused more than $100,000 in damage, city police announced yesterday.

The boys - ages 12 through 14 - are charged with a variety of crimes, ranging from arson to a curfew violation and theft.

The fires began Feb. 26 and ended March 1, police said. The blazes were set in the 2400 and 2500 blocks of Fait Ave., the 900 block of Fells St., the 1900 block of Thames St., the 900 block of S. Wolfe St., the 3400 block of O'Donnell St. and the 1000 block of S. Clinton St.

No one was injured in the fires.

The boys started their spree by breaking into boats, stealing flare guns and setting fires with the flares, said Sgt. John Wallace Jr. of the city's arson unit.

The boys also set fire to houses, garages and construction equipment, Wallace said. The arson investigator credited patrol officers with the arrests.

Officer James Reid and Officer Lawrence Fasano of the Southeastern District responded to a call about children tampering with boats docked at a marina in the 2600 block of Boston St. about 8:50 p.m. March 3, police said.

The officers spotted five juveniles - one carrying a fire extinguisher - walking in the area and stopped them, police said.

Seven boats in the marina had been broken into, police said.

Reid then called arson detectives because he remembered that police were looking for information on juveniles who were setting arson fires in the Canton and Fells Point neighborhoods, police said. The five juveniles were charged that day.

Police tracked down three other boys who were part of the group and charged them with arson March 11.

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