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Youths arrested three days after school fire

by: Photo submitted A suspicious fire Aug. 15 completely destroyed this play structure at the Bilquist Elementary School playground.

Clackamas County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested a pair of 12-year-old boys Aug. 18 in connection with the Aug. 15 burning of a play structure at Bilquist Elementary.

The two, who are students at Bilquist, admitted to throwing Molotov cocktails at the structure but didn't think that it would burn down, causing $40,000 in damage, police said.

They were booked at the Clackamas County Juvenile Reception Center and each charged with Arson II and Criminal Mischief I, which are Class C felonies. Their names are not being released.

Clackamas firefighters and CCSO arrived at Bilquist, at 15708 S.E. Webster Road in Milwaukie, within minutes of a report to find the play structure suspiciously engulfed in flames and fire spreading through the bark chips underneath.

'This case would have been a lot harder to solve if the public had not stepped up and phoned in their tips,' said Bryon O'Neil, CCSO's investigating deputy for this case. 'It really shows how the community can make a difference by keeping their eyes open and reporting things that seem out of place.'

Two fire engines from Clackamas Fire responded and were able to put out the flames, but the play structure is a total loss. Because of the heat involved in the types of burning materials, they were worried about the fire spreading to other structures.

From the initial look of the scene, investigators suspected a ring of lighter fluid poured on the bark chips. The ground and structure would seemingly have to have been purposely ignited, because there was no source of ignition such as an electrical outlet in the area.

'Obviously it's very suspicious, but we don't know at this point that we can prove what we think that it is from the pictures,' said Steve McAdoo, spokesperson for Clackamas Fire.

Anyone with information concerning this event is encouraged to contact the CCSO's confidential tip line, by phone at 503-723-4949 or by using the online email form. Reference case number 11-24597.

The public can also submit crime-tip text messages from a cell phone. All users have to do is send a text message to CRIMES (274637 on your phone keypad) with the keyword CCSO as the first word in the message body.