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San Gabriel Valley Digest

Claremont : Youth Suspected of Arson

September 09, 1993

A 13-year-old Claremont boy has been arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with four small fires this summer, and police said he is a suspect in an Aug. 20 blaze that threatened about 50 homes.

The boy, whose name was not released because he is a minor, was booked at the police station Sept. 1 and released to his mother.

Several of the boy's friends told police that on Aug. 20 they saw him use a match to set fire to a tree near a hiking path just south of Pomello Drive in north Claremont, according to Claremont Police Detective Jon Traber.

That hiking path is near the starting points of two other fires--a 100-acre fire that threatened 50 homes and a small one, both ignited Aug. 20, Traber said. There is not enough evidence to arrest the boy in connection with the large fire or the other smaller one, Traber said, but the boy is a suspect in both blazes and the investigation is continuing.

The large Aug. 20 fire required the use of hundreds of firefighters, two water-dropping helicopters and other resources on a day the County Fire Department was also battling large brush fires in Altadena--where two firefighters were killed and two others were badly burned--and on Santa Catalina Island.

Traber said witnesses also told police they saw the boy ignite three other fires in north Claremont over the past two months. Each of the fires started in an area with shrubs or trees and all were extinguished immediately by firefighters, he said.

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