KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Two juveniles are facing criminal charges in the huge Kingsport fire that reduced a former IGA grocery store to rubble. Two boys, one only 11-years-old, the other 12-years-old, are now charged with reckless burning and aggravated criminal trespassing.
A massive fire took down the vacant building last week. As firefighters fought the flames, witnesses helped investigators identify the two boys. Fire officials tell us the two later confessed, but assistant district attorney Lewis Combs won't say how it started.
"We don't make comment on juvenile cases, especially about the specific facts of the case while it's ongoing," Combs said.
The two face reckless burning and aggravated criminal trespassing. Combs said officers didn't pursue more serious arson charges because the evidence showed reckless behavior.
"Basically that you recklessly start the fire and that it caused some sort of damage to someone's property without their consent," Combs said.
He said the boys will be tried as juveniles because unlike some other charges these can't be transferred to adult criminal court.
"The worst penalty in a juvenile case is that they would be in some sort of state incarceration or housing as a juvenile," Combs said.
Kingsport firefighter Barry Brickey warned that kids showing an early interest in fire should be immediately addressed by parents.
"A child that is curious about fire, that's not going to be something that just stops," Brickey said. "If you find a child that is playing with matches and lighters, you try to help them, get them some help, because they're not going to stop on their own." He suggests seeking counseling for the child.
The two boys are due in juvenile court on June 2.
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