10-Year-Old Palm Coast Girl Charged With Criminal Mischief After Starting Garage Fire
FlaglerLive | March 26, 2015
A 10-year-old Palm Coast girl was issued a civil citation and charged with criminal mischief after Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies determined that she had started a fire in the garage of her home at 2 Blaine Court in the early hours of Wednesday (March 25). The fire and damage could have been far worse than it turned out, as the girl had been playing with matches next to a container of gasoline.
The girl herself called 911 between 4 and 5 a.m. Wednesday to say there was a fire in the garage of the house, according to an incident report. Her
mother, Trinity Clester, 30, then spoke to the 911 operator and said the fire was out but there was smoke in the house. Smoke was still emanating from the area of the garage door when a deputy arrived at the scene, as Jean Clester, 61, the girl’s grandmother, was removing a white wooden chair and wastebasket from the garage. The items had caught fire earlier. Mother and grandmother had extinguished the flames using a garden hose.
The girl and her mother were both outside. Trinity Clester (mother) and (daughter) were also outside. “The chair, waste basket, and other items were still smoldering,” the deputy reported. The tall white wicker chair was originally near the washing machine backed up to the wall. The plastic wastebasket had contained trash and a large quantity of dryer lint.”I could see a section of wall near the washing machine that was burnt from the fire. I then observed two 1-gallon red gasoline plastic containers directly at the site where the fire had started. One gasoline container was empty; the other was filled with gasoline. I also located approximately three used match sticks directly next to the site of the fire on a plastic cooler.”
The fire required the response of several units of the Palm Coast Fire Department and Flagler County Fire Rescue.
The 1,600-square-foot house, currently valued at $71,000, according to the property appraiser, belongs to a Hillister, Texas-based home owner and is not homesteaded.
Two days earlier, the girl’s mother told a deputy, she had found her daughter playing with matches outside the house. Her mother removed the matches from her and she was disciplined. The girl had also moved several walkway stones and attempted to setup a place for a small fire to cook hot dogs in the driveway.
As the Fire Department conducted their investigation it showed the ignition source had started at the base of the wastebasket. The girl was playing with the matches and a cap full of gasoline when the gasoline spilled and caught the garage items on fire.
Due to the girl’s “fascination with fire,” the incident report states, she was charged with criminal mischief and issued a civil citation. The girl was also referred to the fire department’s Juvenile Fire Setter Program. Such programs usually entail an interview with the child to assess behavior, followed by assignments the child must complete at home before returning to the fire department for additional education. Juveniles account for more than haf the arson fires set nationally, and 85 percent of the time, the children themselves are the victims of the fires they set.
The girl is also likely to serve community service hours. Those will be determined by a juvenile probation officer.