A 15-year-old boy suspected of setting 18 fires in the last month has been arrested in northern Idaho.
Coeur d’Alene police say the boy is being investigated in connection with 15 recent wildland fires and then three more fires near Skyway Elementary School. The fires were quickly extinguished.
Coeur d’Alene Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Lauper said it was critical to make an arrest due to an increased chance of fires this weekend because of fireworks, low humidity, high temperatures and no expected rain.
“We’re going to be busy enough with other emergencies,” Lauper told the Coeur d’Alene Press. “Those extra fires were putting a drain on our resources.”
After eight fires were set in the last week, officials asked for the public’s help, which Lauper said was a difficult decision because it could have made it harder to catch whoever was setting the fires.
“We had to make a calculated risk analysis,” Lauper said. “Once we go public, we have to have the resources to put into that investigation because it could either shut him down or make him accelerate his activities.”
Coeur d’Alene police Sgt. Bill Tilson said tips from area resident’s led to the boy’s arrest late Thursday.
“The patrol division received some tips and we followed up on those tips,” he said. “Thanks go to the citizens of the city.”
Lauper said the boy, who is being held in a detention facility and whose name has not been released, has told officials details about the fires. He said the boy and his parents are cooperating with officials.
“He told us things that were absolutely consistent and confidential to the investigation,” Lauper said.
He said serial arsonists tend to set three or more fires, go for a period without setting any fires, and then set more fires.
Information from: Coeur d’Alene Press, www.cdapress.com
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