WEST NEWBURY — Police Chief Jeffrey Durand and Fire Chief Michael Dwyer report that a teenager was issued a summons after allegedly setting small fires in a wooded area on Sunday.
A JUVENILE MALE, AGE 16, OF WEST NEWBURY will be summons to court for two counts of felony Arson of Property.
On Sunday, Aug. 23, the West Newbury Police and Fire Departments responded to several suspicious outside fires in the Rivercrest Drive area of town. As a result, a joint investigation was launched involving the West Newbury Fire Department, West Newbury Police Department, Massachusetts State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Department of Fire Services Special Operations Unit.
As a result of the investigation, the JUVENILE who allegedly set the fires will be summonsed to appear in Newburyport Juvenile Court on two felony charges of Arson of Property.
Because the suspect in this case is a juvenile, no further information will be provided at this time.
With drought conditions resulting in dry grass, shrubs and forest areas, as well as dry soil conditions, Chief Durand and Chief Dwyer wish to remind residents of the increased risk of wildland fires across the state. Fires that burn among these conditions can take multiple days to extinguish and exhaust local resources.
“This type of behavior can result in significant damage to neighboring homes and puts our community members at risk,” Chief Dwyer said. “We strongly urge parents and guardians to talk to their children about proper fire safety and the dangers it poses when not handled properly.”
Open burning is currently prohibited throughout the state and any recreational fires or fire pits may only be used for cooking purposes at this time.
Chief Durand and Chief Dwyer wish to remind residents of the following tips from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services that they can follow to prevent child and youth firesetting:
- Make sure homes have working smoke alarms.
- Develop and practice a home escape plan.
- Keep matches and lighters out of sight and out of reach of young children.
- Explain that matches and lighters are tools for grown-ups.
- Teach children to tell you when they see matches and lighters laying out in the open. When they do, praise them and move the matches and lighters to a safe location.
- Teach children that fires, even small ones, can spread quickly.
- Always use fire with care and set a good example by using matches, lighters and candles carefully.
- Talk to your children about the legal consequences of firesetting.
More information about outdoor fire safety can be found here.