No charges for kids involved in playground fire at Westside Park

- Three boys between the ages of 8 and 12 will not face charges after fire officials found they did not have "willful and malicious" intent when they started a fire at the playground in Westside Park on May 11

Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) Fire Investigators said they tracked the suspects down and found the fire was started when the boys gathered pine straw and lit it with a lighter. When the fire burned out of control, the boys tried to put it out with dirt and by peeing on it, which was unsuccessful. So they ran away.

Investigators said, between the actions of the boys and the damage totals to equipment, the incident did not meet the state of Florida's definition of arson. Evidence was given to the Florida State Attorney's Office and it decided no criminal charges would be filed, due to lack of intent.

A playground area 25 feet from the site of the destructive fire is still available for use at Westside Park.


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