13-Year-Old Charged with Arson in Mentor Marsh Fire

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MENTOR, Ohio --Mentor police say they took two juveniles into custody for questioning into a fire at the Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve after witnesses saw them running from the scene, Tuesday afternoon.

Police then arrested a 13-year-old boy and charged him with arson.

At least 10 acres burned at at the marsh, which started just after 12:30 p.m. and is now out.

20 departments responded.

There were no evacuations.

Firefighters say the grass-- called Phragmites-- has oil in it, so fires kept popping up after they were put out.

Jim Bissell, director of conservation at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, which co-manages the marsh in Mentor released the following statement on what effect, if any, Tuesday’s fire will have on the marsh ecosystem:

“Fortunately, today’s fire at Mentor Marsh had almost no impact on the native wildlife and plants in the ecosystem. The fire affected an area that contained non-native reed grass from Asia (Phragmites australis). The Cleveland Museum of Natural History and other partners, including the City of Mentor and the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, are committed to removing this invasive reed grass from the Marsh to restore the trees and shrubs that the invasive grass overtook. But fires do not harm the non-native reed grass because the underground stems are below the water surface.  Luckily, the area did not contain important native plant species. And because the fire was slow burning, nearby wildlife, such as deer, raccoons and birds were easily able to move out of the way.”

(Emily Valdez contributed to this report.)


  • Steve D

    Punk kids!! Back in my day, you wanted to set something on fire, you set your own hair on fire! It was fun!

  • kristen

    WHat is really wrong with kids??? Sad thing is nothing will happen to them, god only knows what they will be doing when they are a little older. Where is the discipline!

  • Brandy Spring

    Kids were bored outta their minds and decided “Hey lets go start a fire to see what happens”. Whatever happened to playing video games on a day off from school. Or maybe even go to the mall to hang out?

  • george johnston

    When I was a kid in Painesville Township circa 1960, a neighborhood friend of ours did that too. We’d be hanging around figuring out what to do with our BB guns and we’d look around and our buddy was off in a field or some place starting a fire. I think it is a mental state. I often wondered what happened to him.

  • Charles Hall

    well sad as it may be that some animals may have died. it is actually a good thing once in awhile (as long as it don’t get anyone hurt). that marsh will now be open water for more migratory birds to stop over at and feed (yes there’s still food, fish, seeds, small rodents, and much more). then next year the seeds will resew the marsh, resulting in a much healthier sanctuary. this normally happens around the entire planet via lighting.

  • Debbi Sullivan

    charles have you ever heard a deer scream trying to get out of the marsh when its on fire or all the other animals its horrible and this was an act of arson not nature i have lived there my whole life and hearing the animals screaming to get out is the worst thing you can imagine i know yr entitled too your opinion but if YOU ever seen or heard it you would feel different at least i hope you would

  • Katie

    A 13 year old is a child. I don’t think it has much to do with his parents or their parenting skills. If his parents were there, I’m sure they wouldn’t have encouraged him to light the marsh on fire! A lesson to be learned for this child- I hope the courts have mercy on him!

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