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Norwich police make arrests in downtown YMCA, mill fires

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Norwich — Police on Tuesday announced the arrest of five juvenile boys in connection with two recent arson fires in downtown Norwich, with two of the boys allegedly involved in both fires, police said.

Police charged two 13-year-old boys each with first-degree arson, third-degree burglary and first-degree criminal mischief in the Oct. 24 fire that was set in the second floor former boarding room area of the vacant former YMCA at 337 Main St.

The same two boys also each were charged with second-degree arson, third-degree burglary and first-degree criminal mischief in the Oct. 23 fire set at the former SMS Textile Mill, 132 Franklin St.

In addition, two other 13-year-old boys each were charged with first-degree arson, third-degree burglary and first-degree criminal mischief in the fire at the former YMCA.

And a different 12-year-old boy was charged with second-degree arson, third-degree burglary and first-degree criminal mischief in the mill fire.

None of the suspects' names or hometowns was released because of their ages. The five boys were issued summons and are scheduled to appear at the Waterford Superior Court for Juvenile Matters on Nov. 18.

Police said no additional arrests are anticipated.

Norwich Fire Chief and Fire Marshal Kenneth Scandariato praised city police detectives for their quick work investigating the fires and making arrests. Scandariato said both fires were set using the same incendiary manner, but he declined to comment further on how the fires were related.

Both fires caused significant damage to the respective buildings and required response from multiple Norwich fire departments. No firefighter injuries were reported at the former SMS Textile Mill, but two Norwich Fire Department firefighters sustained minor injuries while fighting the YMCA fire.

Norwich police Detective Sgt. Peter Camp also praised the “outstanding police work” of investigating Officers Robert Smith and Scott Dupointe that led to the arrests. Police used downtown security cameras to assist in the investigation of the YMCA fire.

Anyone with information regarding arson fires in Norwich is asked to call the Norwich Police Department’s anonymous tip line at (860) 886-5561, ext. 4, or the Connecticut Arson Hot Line at 800-84ARSON, or (800) 842-7766. All calls may be kept confidential.

Norwich police and fire marshal's office have established a task force for investigating suspected arson fires in the city. In the recent cases, the Norwich Fire Marshal’s Office, with assistance from the Norwich Police Department, conducted origin and cause investigations into both fires. Both fires quickly were ruled incendiary, and Norwich police fire investigators opened their cases. Norwich officials also have taken steps to secure other vacant buildings in the city against possible arson.

c.bessette@theday.com

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