Three Teens Charged With Starting Wildfire

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Three 13-year-old boys were arrested on suspicion of starting a 30-acre wildfire that caused more than $300,000 in damages near the historic mining community of Silver City.

Investigators said all three boys face felony arson charges and their parents are potentially liable for the damages, including the cost of a fire engine destroyed by the blaze.

The local boys are accused of lighting clumps of grass on fire July 26 when flames escaped their control and swept up a canyon. The fire briefly threatened Silver City, located about 40 miles southeast of Reno.

"They started several and stomped them out and this one got away from them," investigator Rich Riolo of the Nevada Division of Forestry told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

He said two of the boys might have been connected with a fire near Silver City earlier this summer, but he could provide no further details.

Evidence at the scene and witnesses who placed the three boys in the fire area led to their arrests Thursday, officials said.

A Central Lyon County Fire District engine was destroyed after it stalled in rugged terrain. The engine's crew was forced to flee flames and escaped unharmed.

The cost of the engine and other gear lost in the fire is estimated at $280,000, while fire suppression costs were about $27,000, Riolo said. The fire district has not determined how much of its losses will be covered by insurance.

Criminal penalties for juveniles are up to the judge.

Mark Darragh, battalion chief for the fire district, said the blaze demonstrates the consequences of playing with fire.

"This is just a clear example of how dangerous playing with fire is," he said. "We give that message to children all the time but parents need to hear that message, too."