Kids setting fires

Kids setting fires

 01 November 2007

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Investigators say arson, accidents, or weather are likely causes of wildfires in California last week. But it happens here, too. In the last three days, 8 Monroe County youngsters have been referred to fire intervention programs. Five of those are linked to a recent brush fire.

In Webster, in 2003, a brush fire burned 60 acres of land. Days later, four teenagers were arrested for their role in sparking the fire.

Monroe County Fire Coordinator Edward Riley said, “You really don’t know why they’re doing it, that’s the purpose of our program, to identify the reasons.”

That’s the “Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program.” This week 8 kids were entered into it.

“It is a lot in a few days,” said Fred Rion, Jr. ”There have been other times when we’ve gotten a dozen in a few days…we have 5 that we’ve linked with one incident involving a brush fire outside.”

Locally some brush fires in recent years have raged on for hours or days.

“It can take off pretty rapidly, and it can spread pretty rapidly,” Riley said. “Literally you have to do some planning around the fire and sometimes let it burn to you.”

Why Kids Set Fires
Rion suggested fire setters are those “kids who are…modeling some behaviors that are either online or in movies.”

One video on YouTube shows college kids in their dorm rooms making flame-throwers–and even setting fire to themselves.

“As kids gain confidence in their ability to do this, they’re going to start to experiment,” Rion said.

“The most important thing…is that they [parents] can’t attribute this behavior to ‘kids just being kids.’ It needs to be addressed because the end result is going to be tragic for a lot of people.”

Counselors with these fire setting intervention programs are quick to point out that other mental or social problems often lead to kids setting fires.

For example, a kid looking for attention that may not be there because of family issues could take to setting fires.

In the case of the brush fire four, they were 13-year-olds and firefighters snuffed it out quickly.

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