Suspicious garage fires bring police, firefighters to Salem neighborhood

SALEM – Two Salem teens were taken into custody Thursday afternoon for a broken glass incident after police were called for two suspicious garage fires, but no charges have been filed related to the fires.

One of the boys was charged with criminal damaging and a probation violation and taken to the Tobin detention center related to broken glass at a North Lincoln Avenue property owned by the Salem school district.

The other boy was transported by ambulance to Salem Regional Medical Center for treatment of injuries thought to be caused by broken glass. He was expected to be charged at a later date.

The two boys, ages 13 and 14, attend Salem schools. School officials were made aware of the situation and came to the scene.

According to Chief J.T. Panezott, the boys were caught while walking up F.E. Cope Drive to the high school parking lot.

Fire department reports said the first call came at 10:45 a.m. at 250 E. Third St. when a neighbor noticed smoke coming from a wall of a garage. A small fire was found on the interior wall and extinguished, with a small gas can that was possibly used to start the fire found in the vicinity. Capt. Scott Mason said the fire started on an outside wall and burned through to the interior of the garage.

The report said the neighbor reported seeing two juveniles near the area before she saw the fire. Her grandson partially extinguished the vegetation on the outside of the structure before firefighters arrived.

At 12:58 p.m., firefighters were called to the rear of 942 E. Fifth St. where a detached garage along an alley caught fire. Lt. Steve Mix said the fire burned the corner of the garage and charred a fence near the garage. A melted gas can was found along the north wall of the garage.

Mason said a neighbor was using 5-gallon buckets of water in an attempt to put the fire out and had it partially extinguished when the fire department arrived. No injuries were reported at either fire. Police were called to both scenes to investigate.

Panezott said witnesses described two boys. There was a report then of breaking glass on North Lincoln Avenue on a property the school district owns and an officer saw two boys that matched the description of the juveniles from the fire scene. One was allegedly injured with a piece of glass stuck in his hand.

The fires remain under investigation. Panezott said officers are investigating whether the two teens were involved in the fires.