Teenager given referral order for arson


A 17-year-old girl has been given a 12 month referral order after pleading guilty to deliberately starting two fires in Widnes.

On 21 December 2014 a skip was set on fire at the back of the B & M store on Albert Road Widnes at 5.36pm. Fire-fighters used one hose reel jet to extinguish the blaze.

Eight days later, at 7.37pm on 29 December 2014, fire-fighters were called to the same location where a number of pallets were well alight up against the back of B & M.

The flames were high enough to result in smoke entering the building through two open windows on the first floor as well as through a door to a lift.

Five people were working in the store at the time and had to be evacuated before fire-fighters arrived.

Two fire engines from Widnes attended and the crews used two hose reels to put the fire out and then a large fan to clear the smoke. A thermal imaging camera was also used to check for hot spots.

Following an investigation into the incidents, CCTV was recovered and four young people were arrested.

No further action was taken against three of them but the 17 year old girl, who can't be named because of her age, was charged.

Senior Crown Prosecutor Carolyn Viviani, prosecuted the case for Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service.

She said: "The actions of this young girl were extremely reckless - fire is a dangerous thing that can quickly get out of control.

"In the second incident, staff were still in the store and, if the fire-fighters had not got there when they did, their lives could have been at risk.

"This girl has obviously not considered the consequences of what she was doing and may even have thought it was a harmless prank.

"Hopefully, this prosecution will make her realise the seriousness of what she was getting involved with and she will change her ways.

The girl pleaded guilty to two counts of arson and one count of criminal damage at Halton Magistrates on Wednesday 3 June. She was also ordered to pay compensation and costs.

Station Manager Andy Royle said: "Arson is a serious crime which is why we work so closely with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to find the people responsible and show them there are consequences to their actions.

"Dealing with deliberate fires is not only a waste of resources for us and other emergency services but it can also quickly spread and become a major incident and we will continue to do all we can with our partners to educate people about the dangers and potential outcomes of setting fires."