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Junior firefighters charged with arson

Two 16-year-old Warminster teens are accused of setting a series of fires in the township this summer.
/ Source: PhillyBurbs.com

Two 16-year-old Warminster teens are accused of setting a series of fires in the township this summer. Two 16-year-old junior members of the Warminster Fire Department were charged Monday with setting 11 fires that escalated from brush and Dumpster fires to burning down a shed and destroying the inside of a car."It's good they were caught before someone was hurt," said Warminster police Sgt. Carol Battistini.Police did not release the names of the boys, both from Warminster, because of their age. They are in the custody of their parents and the charges will be handled in Bucks County's juvenile court.Warminster police Chief Michael Murphy said the teenagers gave "a full and complete statement" when they were brought in for questioning. The two had been junior members of the fire department for less than one year.Fire officials became suspicious when the two boys were the first ones on the scene of a number of similar fires during the day and early evening hours in July and August, said Battistini."The same individuals were frequently at the fire station. They were the first ones in when the calls would come in. It drew some attention," she said.Besides the brush and trash fires, the teens are charged with setting a shed on fire, torching a car parked at Pep Boys on Street Road and, on Aug. 3, burning a pallet of cardboard boxes sitting at a rear door of Old Navy, also on Street Road, according to Battistini. Although she did not want to discuss any evidence found at the fires, she said a lighter was used to start the blazes.It was fortunate, said the sergeant, that employees saw the fire quickly when they were putting trash in the Dumpster or it could have spread to the roof of the shopping center.Jim Krueger, Warminster's fire marshal, credited the actions of the township's fire officials with spotting the pattern and starting an investigation."You always have to be vigilant within a department. New, young firefighters want to prove themselves and stand out," he said. "The bottom line is you have to nip it in the bud and take very aggressive action, which Warminster did."See ARSON Page xx