Children Thought To Blame For Many Fires

By: James Steiner
By: James Steiner

The Red Rock fire brings the total to 19 wildfires and building fires in the past week, some were possibly started by children.

KOLO News Channel 8's James Steiner reports on the Reno Fire
Department's investigations of those fires.
Fire crews have been scrambling this past week putting out everything from brush fires to apartment fires.

"It takes our fire resources to the extent. Quite frankly last night we didn't have enough resources to contain the fire," said one local Reno fire official.

Investigators believe, as in the case of last night's Red Rock fire, they're being started by juveniles playing with matches.

"In the past six days we have referred 12 juveniles to Wittenburg Hall. Shows you how busy we've been," said Capt. Bill Burney.

Here's a timeline of some of the more devastating fires since the beginning of the month:

The first happened July 2 on Beaumont Parkway, coming dangerously close to the Mormon temple. Investigators believe four juveniles lit the brush on fire.

That same day firefighters say three juvinelles and a teenager
started an apartment complex fire on Skyline Drive. Nobody was hurt, but six apartments were destroyed.

Over the weekend two teenagers were arrested for causing a four
acre fire in Spanish Springs.

Last Tuesday, 12 apartments burned on Harvard Way. Fire investigators still haven't been able to catch the juveniles they believe lit a tree on fire - that then burned the building. Thirty-two people were left homeless in that blaze.

And just Thursday, a wildfire scortched more than a hundred acres, forcing the closure of Highway 395. Six homes were also evacuated.
Investigators believe three juveniles are to blame.

Melanie Foster, a deputy district attorney for Washoe County, says
in the case of minors' parents can be held financially responsible for
their child's misconduct. But, the liability cap, according to one Nevada statute, is up to $10,000.

"It tells parents that it could cost them serious money if their child goes and lights up a vacant lot," Foster said.

Family therapists say a child's fascination with matches stems from
the unknown. They say, since matches are forbidden, kids are curious what can happen after they light them.

Says family therapist Barbara Prupas: "Usually it's not the first time they've had impulse control. or trouble with friends at school. It's a good idea for them to seek counseling."


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