11-Year-Old Boy Started Greeley, Colorado Fires

An 11-year-old boy has admitted setting the fires that destroyed two Habitat for Humanity houses and damaged a third earlier this month, police said Thursday.


GREELEY, Colo. (AP) -- An 11-year-old boy has admitted setting the fires that destroyed two Habitat for Humanity houses and damaged a third earlier this month, police said Thursday.

The boy, who is being held at the Platte Valley Detention Center, told police how he started the fires and was identified by a witness in a photo lineup, Greeley police spokesman Joe Tymkowych. The boy lives near the houses that burned, he said.

Police didn't release any information about why the boy started the fires. Charges are expected in the coming days.

Neighbors had reported seeing a teenager running from the scene of one of the fires.

The two homes destroyed were still under construction and families were planning to move into them this fall. Habitat for Humanity eventually hopes to build 61 homes on the site north of the city over 10 years, its largest project in the 13-state Western region.

The group builds houses for low-income families, relying on volunteer help and donations. The houses are sold to the residents at no profit and with no interest on the payments. The residents are required to contribute 500 hours of labor.

After investigators said they suspected arson, some neighbors wondered if the fires were set by someone who opposed the project or was upset because of the prairie dog colony destroyed to make room for the houses. Sen. Wayne Allard asked federal authorities to investigate.

Residents and contractors rallied around the Habitat families and have volunteered to help rebuild the houses. On Saturday, Gov. Bill Owens and his staff will be among 50 volunteers working on one of the houses.

The other house has already had its damaged concrete basement removed and a new one poured. Carpentry work will begin next week.