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.)

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