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12-year-old girls arrested for starting fire

Two St. Helens girls were arrested Monday evening after they admitted to starting a wildfire that spread to a nearby home on Shore Drive.

According to the St. Helens Police Department, the fire broke out just before 5 p.m. in a grassy area between Lincoln Square Apartments at 98 Shore Drive and the two nearby homes. One of the houses caught fire and its residents had to be evacuated.

Columbia River Fire and Rescue firefighters responded to the scene.

The 12-year-old girls were seen leaving the area after flames broke out. Officers found them a few minutes later and said they were both playing with matches in the area.

“They admitted to it,” St. Helens Police Chief Terry Moss said.

Both were taken into custody at the Cowlitz County Juvenile Detention Center in Longview, Wash. They are being charged with first degree arson, which is a Class A felony.

No injuries were reported, but the fire burned a portion of the home and left $10,000 of damage. Moss said the Red Cross provided temporary relocation assistance to the residents of the home.

The fire also destroyed a small portion of an acre.

Cowlitz County policy prevents officers from its juvenile detention center from discussing any details of juvenile cases.