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Boy, 7, Is Serial Arsonist, Fire Marshal Says

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on April 11, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A 7-year-old arsonist? They do exist.

Fire officials in Juneau, Alaska have identified a 7-year-old boy suspected of setting at least five fires during the past four months. The unnamed child admitted to the crimes, but failed to provide a motive.

He apparently found a lighter and decided to set things on fire. It's very possible he was just intrigued by the flames.

The boy's grandmother, who is also his legal guardian, was surprised at this turn of events. She was very concerned, according to the Juneau Empire, and officials feel that she will play a big part in ensuring that this never happens again.

How she didn't know the 7-year-old arsonist was lighting fires is a bit of a mystery. He took responsibility for fires at an elementary school, a legislative building, a street corner, and two at a local grocery store, reports the Associated Press. It's possible he may also be responsible for two fires in a City Hall restroom.

As is expected, Fire Chief Richard Etheridge told the Empire that the boy will not go to jail. Instead, his case has been referred to probation officers at a local youth detention center.

State laws generally prohibit the arrest and detention of young children, including those who are 7 years of age. They often don't understand their actions, and placing them in a facility would be more traumatizing than rehabilitative.

Instead, young children are often ordered to complete outside programs and undergo counseling. So while the 7-year-old arsonist won't be thrown in jail, he'll probably be meeting with a therapist and taking a fire safety class or two.

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