A 14-year-old resident of Palm Coast’s B Section and a student at Buddy Taylor Middle School was arrested Friday morning and charged with five felony counts over allegedly, maliciously starting fires at six locations that day, all of them in the B Section. The girl lives at a group home on Burgundy Place.
The fires were set in vacant lots on Birchwood Drive, on Big Dipper Lane, at 1 Burgundy Place and two on Big Horn Drive, and a fence was damaged at 2 Burrell Place, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
Residents on Birchwood Drive told deputies who were investigating the fires that they saw “a white juvenile female with long blonde hair wearing a black shirt and blue jeans walking around with mud on her,” and produced a video of the girl. A deputy recognized her because of recent encounters with her. Other witnesses provided similar descriptions of the girl, some of them providing video as well.
One such clip shows the girl on Big Dipper Lane, then north on Birchwood Drive, and catches the girl walking into the wooded lot of 1 Big Horn Drive then back out. Even as deputies were searching for the girl, they got other reports of fires in the B-Section. A patrol located her–holding a lighter in her hand. The girl declined to speak with deputies.
The fire at 1 Burgundy Place had damaged a section of fencing on Burrell Place, but each fire grew in size and approached homes in the heavily residential neighborhood, the sheriff’s report notes.
The girl was placed under arrest and charged with five counts of Reckless and intentional Burning of Lands and one count of Felony Criminal Mischief over $1,000. She was processed at the county jail, turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice, and released to her legal guardian pending a future court date.
“This young lady needs a lot of help and since DJJ released her back into the same environment that allowed this behavior, I hope she does not do it again and instead gets the help she needs,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “Thank you to our hard-working deputies and the witnesses who saw what was happening and called us immediately and thank you to the Palm Coast Fire Department for working hard to put out the fires.”