Boy Incendiary at Woonsocket, R. I.
Because he liked to hear the clang of gongs and watch the sparks fly from fire engines, Edouard Charpentier, a 12-year-old boy of Woonsocket. R. I., admitted on June 2, that he had set 17 fires that have caused a general search for the firebug since the first alarms were sounded four days before. Seven of the fires were discovered before 8 o’clock during the evening of June. 1, six of them in the rear of wooden buildings on Main street in the heart of the business section, where a conflagration could be easily started and hard to overcome had the flames been kindled later when their early discovery would have been less probable. After the fires had been extinguished, a policeman met the boy on the street. The lad told the officer that there was a fire at the upper end of the street, and he found that a fire had been set in an old straw bed in an ash box. Chief A. J. Cote was notified of the boy’s strange actions and ordered him taken to the police station where he was questioned as to his knowledge of the fires that had been set within three days. He admitted that he was present when 15 were set and said that the incendiary was a red-headed boy whose name he did not know. The police were not satisfied with the story told by the boy and arrested him. For a long time the boy stuck to his original story. Persistent questioning however, caused him to break down and confess that he had been solely responsible for all of the fires. He said that his only reason for setting them was to satisfy his desire to see the apparatus rush down the street showering sparks in its wake and to hear the inspiring sound of the chief’s gong and the clang of engine bells. He said also that the sight of smoke and fires was so appealing that he could not resist the impulse to gratify his desire for the spectacular.