|Boy, 6, set fire that killed siblings in Conyers|
|Written by Valerie J. Morgan|
CONYERS—The 6-year-old survivor of Tuesday’s fire started the blaze that killed his four siblings, authorities announced this evening. He will be referred to the state Department of Family and Children Services for counseling and treatment, officials said.
The child was playing with a cigarette lighter when he set a basket of clothes on fire. Sources said he was playing with an “imaginary friend” when he started the fire, although investigators would not give any details other than he started the fire with a lighter.
Rockdale Fire Chief Dan Morgan said because the case involves a juvenile, there are certain questions that he is not permitted to answer. The child's name also now is being withheld in news reports.
The 6-year-old was the only one of the five children in the home to make it out alive. His mother, who also survived, dropped him from a window, authorities said. His grandmother, Rosetta Mitchell, survived as well and was not injured. The children who died were 9 years old, 7 years old, 3 years old and 8 months old.
Investigators said they determined the 6-year-old started the fire after interviewing him and his mother, Reeba Glass, 28; grandmother; and father, Darnell Glass, Sr. The father and mother did not live together. Morgan said the family members were interviewed several times this week. The investigators “pieced together” the information and reached a conclusion around 3 p.m. today (Jan. 11), Morgan said.
“The lab results from the investigation have been thoroughly examined and test results show no accelerants were found in the samples submitted,” Morgan said in a prepared statement at the press conference held this evening. “Investigators also have determined there were no electrical malfunctions and all accidental causes have been eliminated. All tips, leads the public provided have been investigated fully and ruled out as the cause of the fire.”
Morgan said the 6-year-old would not be prosecuted.
“We have preliminary discussions with the District Attorney of Rockdale County and it’s his belief that this 6-year-old cannot form the criminal intent to be prosecuted in Juvenile Court,” Morgan said.
Morgan said he did not know if there had been a history of fires at the Pinedale community address where the Glass family lived. Tuesday’s fire occurred around 11 p.m. The four children who perished were in bed asleep when the fire started.
The mother and grandmother also were asleep, authorities said. It is unclear why the 6-year-old was awake and up alone.
Investigators said there were no working smoke detectors in the Glass’ family’s duplex. There was one smoke detector on the main floor, but there was no battery in it, they said.
Authorities said the landlord would have been responsible for making sure the duplex had a smoke detector. State law, they said, requires that smoke detectors be placed outside of any bedrooms, but the maintenance of those smoke detectors depends on the tenant-lease agreement.