2 Teen-Agers Face Arson Charges in Fires at Schools

Times Staff Writer

Two teen-age boys arrested in connection with fires at three Escondido schools Saturday night are expected to be arraigned on arson charges in Juvenile Court today.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Karen Walter, who is assigned to the case, said the two youths face felony arson charges in the three fires, which caused more than $1 million in damages at Escondido High School, Orange Glen High School and Del Dios Middle School.

The two suspects, a 16-year-old sophomore at Valley High School, a continuation school for troublesome youth, and a 17-year-old senior at Escondido High, were arrested Monday at their homes without incident, a police spokesman said.

Both Walter and Escondido police refused to reveal if either teen-ager had a criminal record because they are juveniles,


Walter said the exact charges against the pair were not yet set but probably would be filed under a state Penal Code dealing with arson of an uninhabited building, a lesser charge than arson that endangered inhabitants’ lives.

Earlier Fire Investigated

She said the decision as to whether the suspects will be tried as juveniles or as adults is a matter for the court.

Fred Aguilar, deputy fire marshal with the Escondido Fire Department, said the teen-agers’ possible involvement in an earlier $75,000 fire in a portable classroom at Escondido High was still under investigation.


Aguilar said investigators received reports that teen-agers had purchased lighter fluid at a store near Escondido High shortly before the first of the three fires--at that high school--was discovered about 9 p.m. Saturday.

The investigator said the Escondido High fire had been started with some combustible substance in the theater section of the school’s multipurpose building. The second fire at Orange Glen High was started at eight separate points and also involved an “accelerant,"--a substance such as gasoline, kerosene or lighter fluid, he said. In the third fire at Del Dios, damage at the origin of the fire--a storage area--was too extensive to determine if a combustible liquid had been used.