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Panama City Teen Charged with Arson


TALLAHASSEE – A Panama City middle school student was arrested today on six counts of arson for setting a fire Friday that damaged six mobile homes and six acres of land off Kimbrell Avenue.

The 15-year-old boy, whose name is not being released because he is a juvenile, was arrested at about 11:30 a.m. at Everitt Middle School by investigators from the Office of State Fire Marshal and the Bay County Sheriff's Office. He faces his first hearing on the felony charges Tuesday morning at Bay County Courthouse.

Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher, who also serves as State Fire Marshal, said no one was injured in the blaze, which took four hours to bring under control. The mobile homes, among some two dozen stored in a field behind the boy's home, were uninhabited. Damage to the homes was estimated at $30,000.

Investigators with the Division of Fire and Arson Investigations, a division within the State Fire Marshal's Office that investigates fires involving arson or unknown causes, said the boy lit paper products and tossed them into one of the mobile homes. The fire quickly spread two five other nearby mobile homes and through six acres of surrounding land, most of which was woods.

Investigators said another 15-year-old may have been involved but has not been charged at this time.

Responding to the fire were the Florida Division of Forestry and the Callaway, Springfield, Parker and Bay County fire departments.