Grade School Girls Charged In Brush Fire

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Three girls, a 9-year-old and two 11-year-olds, have been charged with reckless burning after starting a brush fire near Payson homes and businesses on Veterans Day.

The fire scorched about 100 square feet of vegetation near the corner of Beeline Highway and East Main Street the evening of Nov. 11.

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Firefighter Vince Palandri of the Payson Fire Department puts out a suspicious fire Veterans Day evening near the newly opened section of East Main Street.

"They were using a candle for light when it got knocked over and started the fire," Officer Les Barr of the Payson Police Department said. "They tried to put the fire out themselves, and one of the girls sustained burns on her foot trying to stamp out the flames. Her mother said they were pretty bad burns that left large blisters on her foot."

The concerned mother called police. "The way we found out about it was the injured girl's mother called us the next day after the fire and felt her daughter didn't understand the seriousness of the problem," Barr said. "The two older girls had gone to school and actually bragged about how they were going to be in the paper and how they started the fire."

All three girls have been referred to juvenile probation.

"You can't charge them with arson because it wasn't an occupied structure, so they were charged as juveniles with reckless burning, a class one misdemeanor," Barr said. "Their punishment is up to the probation office -- which may include fire safety classes."

Barr said he explained to the girls that had the fire not been put out quickly by the Payson Fire Department, it could have been a major problem in that area of town.

"(The girls) really didn't have any remorse. In fact, they didn't seem to see it as a big deal," Barr said. "Hopefully with the charges and the consequences, they'll realize how dangerous it really was."

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