Officials: Boy, 11, Charged With Arson In Store Fire

HAMPSTEAD, Md. (AP) — An 11-year-old boy was charged with arson in a fire that destroyed a Maryland dollar store earlier this month, state fire investigators announced Monday.

The fire broke out at a Dollar General in Hampstead on Sept. 3 and the boy was identified last week during an investigation that involved Hampstead police, the state fire marshal’s office said.

The Hampstead Volunteer Fire Company and neighboring fire departments responded to the fire on South Main Street and quickly upgraded the fire to two alarms, bringing firefighters from neighboring counties to the scene, officials said. It took more than an hour to control the blaze and no injuries were reported.

The boy was charged with first-degree arson and released to his parent’s custody, officials said. Charges will be referred to the Department of Juvenile Services. His name won’t be released because of his age.

Juvenile firesetting contributes to dozens of fires in Maryland each year and about half of those fires are started using smoking materials, according to the fire marshal’s office. State Fire Marshal Geraci urged parents and caregivers to keep these items away from children and explain the dangers of fire.