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Boy, 8, accused of setting fire in Southampton Twp., Pa.

November 25, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

ORRSTOWN, Pa. - An 8-year-old boy is accused of setting a Tuesday house fire, but he will not be charged with arson, Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal Jeff Sarver said.

Sarver said children are not considered legally culpable for setting fires until the age of 11.

"We can't charge him, but I contacted Children and Youth Services," Sarver said.

The boy lived with his grandmother, uncle and other relatives in a two-story, wood-frame house with vinyl siding on Orrstown Road in Southampton Township, Sarver said.

After dinner, "he says he's going to go upstairs and play in his room," the fire marshal said.

Police say the boy, who took Sarver to the bedroom afterward to show what happened, allegedly used a Bic lighter to set his bedding on fire and returned downstairs without saying anything.

Family members heard smoke detectors, discovered the fire in the bedroom and tried to put it out. Sarver said people encountering fire should always leave the structure immediately and not try to fight it themselves.

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Three people were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

"The grandmother is still in the hospital," Sarver said Wednesday afternoon.

West End Fire & Rescue Co. of Shippensburg, Pa., and other firefighters contained the worst of the damage to the boy's bedroom. Adjacent rooms sustained smoke and heat damage.

"The house filled up with smoke pretty quickly," said Sarver, who said firefighters were called to the scene at about 6 p.m.

The fire marshal said he plans to refer the boy to a county program for juveniles who set fires.

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