Eleven-year-old boy charged with setting fire that destroyed four buildings in Ovid

Updated: 03/26/2014 11:30 PM
Created: 03/26/2014 4:12 PM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen

An 11-year-old boy is accused of causing a massive fire which damaged four buildings in the village of Ovid. Investigators say the young boy admitted to causing the fire.

News10NBC spoke with the Seneca County Sheriff. He says the boy is remorseful, but perhaps does not fully understand the seriousness of what happened.

The 11-year old is now facing fourth-degree arson charges. Authorities are not releasing his name because he's being charged as a juvenile delinquent.

News10NBC was out in Ovid last week and fire investigators, at that time, felt they had pinpointed the origin of the fire. They believed it started outside in the back of one of the downtown buildings. The fire burned out of control at the main intersection of the business district in the village of Ovid. Four buildings were destroyed, including two restaurants, the town assessor's office and an apartment building, which left several families homeless. 

The sheriff says the boy admitted he was playing alone under a porch behind one of the restaurants. He apparently had a lighter and accidentally set trash on fire. When the fire got out of control, he ran away. The sheriff says they were led to the boy because he was the first to report seeing the fire.  

Although the sheriff says it wasn't intentional, the boy was charged criminally in an attempt to make sure he gets the proper help he needs.

Sheriff Jack Stenberg, Seneca County, said, "My understanding is he is remorseful and we're not quite sure he fully engulfs yet the ramifications as far as how serious it could have been, serious enough, but how serious it could have been too.”

The sheriff says the boy is not being held in any kind of custody. He's home with his parents. The case will be heard in family court.

Ovid Fire Chief Bill Palmer had just learned late Wednesday afternoon that the sheriff's office had arrested and charged the boy.

"This was a very serious fire. We're fortunate we didn't have any injuries, but it's not uncommon to have a child playing with matches or a lighter."

Palmer says this small village has weathered several catastrophic events including the fire of 1874 that destroyed the buildings on both sides of the street. He has the maps to prove what happened, but he says its time to forgive and begin to rebuild.

Resident Cassandra Sherwood, who has only lived here for two years, agrees.

Sherwood says, "To find out that it was just a kid... I hope the community will forgive him. I know I do, it was an accident. It wasn't intentional."

Mark's Pizzeria stayed open past its 10:00 p.m. close, making 27 pizzas to feed the firefighters. Owner Gabe Telanco says he has no regrets.

Telanco says, "I'm sure we all made mistakes at 11. Hopefully learn from it and be a better person."

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