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Officials: 7-year-old set fire to church after finding lighter in parking lot

4 years 10 months 2 weeks ago Monday, August 26 2019 Aug 26, 2019 August 26, 2019 1:43 PM August 26, 2019 in News
Source: WBRZ
Photo: Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal

VIVIAN - Fire officials say a 7-year-old boy has admitted to setting a fire that damaged a Caddo Parish church over the weekend.

Just before 1:30 p.m. Sunday firefighters received a call about a fire at the Church of Christ on Christian Avenue in Vivian. The church was significantly damaged by the blaze.

Firefighters requested assistance from the state fire marshal's office to determine the cause of the fire. After assessing the scene, SFM investigators determined the fire was intentionally set.

Investigators learned that hours before the fire was reported, someone had thrown a rock through the church's front door. Witness statements and evidence collected led investigators to identify a young boy who lived near the church as a suspect.

Officials say the boy was interviewed while in the presence of a guardian. While speaking with authorities, the boy admitted to not only throwing the rock but also to setting the fire.

The unidentified boy said he found a lighter in the parking lot while he was riding his hoverboard in the area. He pulled down the cardboard that was temporarily securing the damaged front doors, tore a piece off, and lit it on fire.

The boy also admitted to lighting a roll of toilet paper on fire in the bathroom before leaving. The juvenile couldn't give investigators a reason for his behavior.

“It is certainly disappointing to see a child, especially of this age, engaging in such dangerous and concerning behaviors,” said State Fire Marshal Chief Butch Browning. “We encourage parents and guardians to keep a close eye on kids and warn them not only of the dangers of playing with fire, but the consequences of fire, including to property, their lives and the lives of others, as well as their futures.”

Due to his age, the boy wasn't arrested. His guardian committed to having the family work with the church on their recovery.

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