LEWISTON — Neighbors at the scene of the Pierce Street fire said Saturday they blamed the parents of the 12-year-old boy charged with arson.
They also said they were ready to leave the city's downtown.
Brenda Lee, who used to live in Sabattus, said she was ready to move back.
“This is getting too crazy,” she said.
Lee lives across Pierce Street from where a four-bay garage went up in flames Friday night, the work of a preteen arsonist, investigators said.
Lee was home Friday night with her 14-year-old son, Christian, when she heard screaming and her son yelled that the nearby building was on fire.
Lee got her son and dogs out of her apartment. They were taken to the apartment of her other son, Donald Peterson, who lives down the street at 143 Pierce St.
She camped out in her truck and waited until 4 a.m. before she felt it was safe to return to her apartment, safe in the knowledge it wouldn't catch fire from the garage and four apartment buildings that burned across the street Friday night.
“It's crazy; it's foolish,” she said.
Other residents reacted with shaking heads to the news that a 12-year-old had been charged with four counts of arson two days after another 12-year-old boy had been charged with three counts of arson for a Monday fire that destroyed three buildings just blocks away.
“Honestly, I think it's sad,” Lee said. “I have a 14-year-old. He's in my house. He doesn't wander the streets. He doesn't run around. He's monitored.”
She wondered why a 12-year-old boy was on the streets at 10 p.m.
“It doesn't make any sense.” Lee said. “It really doesn't.”
She said parents should be held accountable.
“Look at how many people he just made homeless. Where's the mom? Where's the dad?”
Her son, Donald Peterson, father of a 10-month-old son, said he thinks both the parents and children should answer for the crime.
“If the child has what it takes to start a fire, what else are they gonna do? Are they gonna kill someone? Are they gonna become a mass murderer? ... Anything can happen,” he said.
He said the parents should go to jail and the child should be at a juvenile corrections facility until age 18, then go to jail.
His fiancee, Crystal Lamontagne, wasn't sure she agreed that a 12-year-old should be tried as an adult.
“If they're setting random houses on fire,” Peterson said, “I just want to move. I don't even want to be here.”