By Tracy Martin
The News Corespondent
CRESCENT HEIGHTS-Around 2 in the afternoon July 24, a 12-year-old girl allegedly started a fire that destroyed her family’s home. Sources and witnesses spoke with The News about the fire, but will not be named to guard the identity of the juvenile. It took mere minutes for the fire to spread from room to room. The child’s mother attempted to put the fire out, while trying to get two other children out of the mobile home.
She was one of five treated for smoke-inhalation, including three firefighters who required medical attention due to the extreme heat and smoke. Two other residents of the small mobile home park needed hospitalization, one wheelchair bound, another with emphysema and high blood pressure.
The home was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived from Malakoff, North 19, Trinidad and Southside, two mobile homes on either side were saved because of the efforts by these fire departments. Had the fire not been contained, witnesses say three or four other residences could have been destroyed. They told firefighters how thankful they are for the saving of their homes. Bob Norris with North 19 fire and rescue says it was an incredibly hot fire. “The biggest concern was the proximity of the other homes and getting people away from the fire and heat. The smoke was very dangerous for everyone near the fire,” he said.
Henderson County Fire Marshal Shane Renberg was immediately called to the scene when arson was suspected. “It is always a delicate investigation when dealing with a juvenile and a serious crime like arson, especially when victims and firefighters battling the fire suffered injuries,” Renberg said.
One source told The News the mother had been dealing with behavior issues with the child, including treatment and medications, the 12-year-old attended school and is described as being a sweet, pretty girl. Renberg transported the child from the scene to a juvenile detention facility in Anderson County, where she is being held, undergoing evaluation and facing felony charges of arson to a habitation with injuries.
The family is described as hard-working and had purchased the mobile home after renting it and had been doing renovations and making improvements. The home is a total loss, and the family did not have insurance. The Red Cross provided emergency aid and temporary accommodations. Sources say the mother, father and three children had recently gone on a family vacation and are devastated by the fire and charges their little girl now faces.