CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Fire officials have accused a six-year-old boy of setting two separate fires that displaced two families in Chesapeake.
The two fires happened three weeks apart in two public housing neighborhoods off Campostella Road.
On June 29, nine people were displaced by an apartment fire on Welcome Road. Capt. Scott Saunders with the Chesapeake Fire Department said investigators determined a six-year-old boy started the fire with a lighter in a closet.
“I’m not mad at him because he is still a child,” said Lakesha Arnold, the mother of eight displaced.
Arnold says she was babysitting the boy, but she didn’t find out he was to blame until a fire was sparked at a duplex on Acorn Drive Officials say the boy was playing with a lighter again and set his own home on fire.
Ericka Harris, the boy’s mother, tells 8News sister station WAVY he got ahold of a lighter she uses in the home to light candles.
Capt. Saunders says the boy eventually admitted to the fires in a series of interviews.
Saunders says the situation underscores the importance of parents keeping a watchful eye.
“He didn’t have any malice. He didn’t want to burn anything,” said Saunders. “Kids are curious. Candles, lighters, matches — keep track of them. If you have them in your home, keep them away from kids.”
Arnold is expecting to be placed in a new home next week by the housing authority after being displaced for the last month and at times living out of her car.
Each year, the City of Chesapeake says fires set by children account for 300 deaths and $300 million in property damage.
Harris says she plans to enroll her son in Chesapeake’s Juvenile Firesetters Programin September. The program teaches fire safety and the consequences of setting fires.
No injuries were reported in any of the fires.