An 8-year-old Springfield boy admitted Monday that he had started five fires in the Springfield area over the past two weeks, according to the arson investigation division of the Fairfax County fire marshal's office. One of the fires was in a storage shed and another spread to a house.
The boy, who is in the custody of his parents and will be brought before Fairfax County juvenile court, told arson investigators he started the fires on his way to school, according to Sgt. Edward Plaugher, an arson investigator.
The shed fire, which occured last Thursday morning and caused $1,500 damage, and the house fire, which occurred Monday morning and caused $5,000 damage, were set by igniting gasoline, Plaugher said. The fires occurred on Axton Street in Springfield. Earlier last week in the same area, three smaller fires were started in piles ofold newspapers.
Plaugher said the 8-year-old was located by investigators after neighborhood residents said the boy had been at the scene of both large fires.
Investigators, working with a $43,000 mobile arson laboratory given to the fire marshal's office under grant from the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Adminstration, also traced the boy through a shoe print in snow left at the scene of Monday's fire.
Plaugher said that attempts were made, using impression casting with slicone, to make a copy of the shoe imprint in the snow. The method failed, however, because of technical problems. He said the imprint in the snow was photographed and it matched the bottom of a pair of shoes owned by the boy.
Plaugher said that in VIrginia an 8-year-old is "presumed incapable of committing a crime." Sgt. Wayne Logan, of the fire marshal's office, said, "the number one priority in children of this age is to get them some help before the problem btcomes more serious."