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9-year-old charged in W.Va. arson

April 16, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A 9-year-old Martinsburg boy was charged with second-degree arson Wednesday following a March 22 fire that raced through three vacant houses on East Burke Street, police said.

The boy's name was not released because of his age.

The fire started shortly after 10 p.m. on March 22 at a house at 318 E. Burke St., said Capt. John Bigiarelli of the Martinsburg Fire Department. From there the fire spread to two more houses at 316 E. Burke St., and 320 E. Burke St., Bigiarelli said.

Investigators believe the fire was started when some paper inside a bucket was lighted, said Detective Kevin Miller of the Martinsburg Police Department.

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All three homes, which were being renovated, were heavily damaged in the blaze, Bigiarelli said. Damage to the houses was estimated at $36,000, police said.

It was not known who owned the houses.

Miller said he did not know if the boy in the case was alone when the fire started. There have not been any problems with youngsters trespassing on property in the area, Miller said.

A juvenile petition charging the boy with second-degree arson was filed with the Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney's office Wednesday, Miller said.

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