LOGANVILLE, Ga. (AP) - Police say three boys younger than 12 years old, who are charged with starting a brush fire that destroyed four homes in a retirement community and damaged others, were visiting their grandmother.
The three appeared in court yesterday to face charges of arson and burglary in connection with the fire that started Sunday in a kudzu patch and spread to the Village Place retirement community in Loganville.
Police say the boys, two Lawrenceville brothers who are seven and eleven and their ten-year-old cousin from Loganville, were visiting their grandmother when they went to a nearby welding company.
Authorities say the boys are accused of wriggling through a broken window and stealing tools including two hammers, a marker, a level, a saw, a clamp, a punch, an oil can and a disposable lighter.
Police believe the boys went to the kudzu patch behind the building and lit two small fires, dumping oil on one of them. Authorities say the boy tried to stomp the fire out but then panicked and ran.
On Monday, police found sets of small footprints around the truck. Later that day, the mother of the brothers took the three boys to the Loganville police station. Police say the three cried as they confessed.
The boys looked scared yesterday as they appeared in a 15-minute hearing in Walton County Juvenile Court. Juvenile Court Judge J. Stanley Rhymer ruled that the two older boys would remain in the county's juvenile detention center. He allowed the youngest to return home with his mother.
The boys began to cry as did their parents.
Some 40 firefighters battled the blaze that destroyed four homes and damaged six others. Barbara Hobbs, a medical X-ray technician, was at work when the fire broke out. Her dog Coco, a Pekingese, died in the fire.