Boys Playing With Fire Ignite Blaze : Danger: The three were using matches when they accidentally started a 5-acre brush fire, investigators say.


A 9-year-old boy who was kept home for setting fires and two friends used matches and lighter fluid to start a back-yard brush fire Monday morning that burned five acres and briefly threatened some homes at the edge of Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, fire officials said.

None of the eight nearby homes were damaged and no one was injured in the fire, which firefighters brought under control with the help of water dropped by helicopter. Fire crews on the ground also moved in to surround the blaze along a ridge near the intersection of Santiago Canyon and Modjeska Canyon roads, said Capt. Dan Young, spokesman for the Orange County Fire Department.

The fire burned through thick brush up the steep hillside but was controlled easily in windless conditions, Young said.


He said two 9-year-old boys and a 12-year-old boy admitted setting the fire accidentally while playing with matches near their homes. Their names were not released because they are juveniles. Young said the case will be referred to the district attorney and the boys’ parents asked to repay the estimated $1,000 to $2,000 cost of dousing the fire.

One of the younger boys told fire investigators he was grounded for having set fires during the past two weeks, Young said. Investigators discovered signs of at least five recent fires in the area.

“You’re not talking about a campfire,” Young said. “These kids were out in the middle of vegetation and using cigarette lighter fluid. Unbelievable.”