With the flick of a lighter, a 12-year-old boy riding a push scooter set fire to the crafts section of a Barstow Walmart this week, causing at least $1 million worth of damage, police said.
The boy rode off after setting fire to the merchandise around 2 p.m. Wednesday, police said. He was found later that day in a neighborhood nearby and arrested on suspicion of arson, said Barstow Police Lt. Chris Kirby.
The giant retail store at 621 Montara Road has remained closed due to water, fire and smoke damage throughout the building, he said.
“That’s a substantial loss for Walmart,” Kirby said, adding that the incident also required many firefighting resources.
The boy wasn’t with his parents when he set the fire, police said.
Surveillance video showed the boy — who was wearing a backpack and green T-shirt with distinct markings — igniting the crafts and then riding out of the store on his scooter, Kirby said.
Several Walmart employees attempted to douse the flames with fire extinguishers but were unsuccessful, police said. Three employees suffered from smoke inhalation and were treated at the scene.
Eventually, firefighters from Barstow Fire Protection District were able to snuff the blaze.
After discovering that the fire was likely arson, police began talking to witnesses and looking at evidence. They searched surrounding neighborhoods for the boy.
Finally, police spotted the boy as he rode his scooter near Rimrock Road and Opal Street.
He was taken into custody and his parents were notified, police said. He has not been identified because he is a minor.
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