New Port Richey, Florida-- A total of 11 fires have been intentionally set within a specific New Port Richey neighborhood over the past two years, and Thursday, officials say they may have found their culprit.
According to reports, a fire sparked for the first time on the 6000 block of Indiana Ave. on July 2, 2011. They steadily occurred over the years, until the past couple of weeks, during which officials say they have increased.
Is it a coincidence? Eleven fires- all lit by.... an 11-year-old?
That's right, the recent pattern of sheds, trees, chairs and other items lead officials to an 11-year-old who lives in the area. They say they have interviewed the child in the past, but there was not enough probable cause to arrest him- until now.
The arrest occurred when the child lit his final fire Wednesday night. Officers and detectives were actually in the area setting up a surveillance detail to catch the "arsonist", when they saw the fire and caught the child.
Detective C. Mellecker and Assistant Fire Chief T. Exline interviewed the child and so far, they say, he admitted to six of the eleven fires.
He was charged with the six separate cases and transported to the Pasco County Juvenile Assessment Center.
No injuries have been reported but at least one house was occupied at the time a damaging fire was set.
The investigation continues. 10 News will have more on this developing story.