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Teen admits starting 5-alarm Baron Woolen Mills fire, police say

Published: Wednesday, July 9 2014 12:24 p.m. MDT

Baron Woolen Mills fire in Brigham City, Sunday, June 29, 2014.

Whitney Ritchie,

BRIGHAM CITY — Police say a teenager who "was just playing with fire and it got out of control" started last month's five-alarm fire that destroyed the Baron Woolen Mills building.

But the question of whether that suspect will be prosecuted in Utah remained unknown Wednesday.

The main building from the 129-year-old company, established by Lorenzo Snow who later would become president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was destroyed in an inferno on June 29.

Late last week, Brigham City Police Lt. Dennis Vincent said a 17-year-old boy walked into the Tulare County Sheriff's Office in California with his mother and confessed to starting the fire.

"According to his statement, he went over there and just started burning some newspapers and things like that, and the fire got out of control. He felt like he had the fire extinguished. He left," said Vincent.

The teen, who was in Utah visiting a relative, went back to the relative's house and a short time later heard the sirens from fire trucks and saw the flames.

Investigators do not believe the boy intentionally tried to burn the structure down, Vincent said. Because of that, he believes the boy will likely only face charges of reckless burning, a class A misdemeanor.

But whether a misdemeanor is a charge serious enough for officials to actively seek the boy's extradition to Utah was unknown Wednesday.

"That's something the county attorney's office is going to have to determine," the lieutenant said. "Given what happened and the size of the fire and fact that he's a juvenile, I think that could be a definite possibility."

Vincent gave credit to the teen, however, for doing the right thing.

"He did come forward. That's one good thing he did do. Because he could have gone back to California and kept his mouth shut and we may have never known."

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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