Usfiya boy suspected of starting Carmel fires released

Father of 14-year-old says son didn't start the fire, claims that teachers saw son in class, not smoking in the forest, at time inferno erupted.

December 7, 2010 09:28
1 minute read.
Trees on fire near Usfiya

Trees fire Usfiya 311. (photo credit: Channel 10 News)

The 14-year-old Usfiya resident who was arrested on Monday on suspicion of sparking the Carmel inferno by throwing charcoal from a water pipe into a forest clearing was released to house arrest on Tuesday by the police’s Hof central district unit.

The youth confessed to the allegations against him and reenacted his suspected actions on Monday, police said.

Police: Usfiya boy, 14, admits to starting Carmel fire
Police say Carmel fire started by negligence, not arson

“We intend on prosecuting him to the full extent of the law,” police spokesman Mor Inbar added.

Police said that after seeing the flames grow out of control, the boy became panicked, “ran back to his school [in Usfiya], and did not report the fire to anyone.” Police refused to confirm media reports on Tuesday that an additional 13-year-old resident of the Druze town has been questioned in recent hours.

Earlier Tuesday, the father of the 14-year-old Usfiya boy denied that his son was involved in the fire in an interview with Army Radio.

“The guard at school said that my son was 15 minutes late, and waited until his second class started, at 8:45. The teachers say he was in every class after that,” the father said.

“Pilots only saw the fire at 11:40, three hours later. How could my son have done it?”

The father said that his son felt pressured under police investigation.

“I am sure that they did a lot to get him to confess. I waited in the police station for hours, and the whole time they said that if we have a note from the school, my son will probably be let free.

“Then, they said that my son confessed. Later, they told me that he was confused, and he wasn’t sure exactly where the fire broke out,” the father explained.

He accused police of searching for a scapegoat. “They want to accuse my son of 42 deaths, after the state didn’t buy firefighting planes?” he asked.

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