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8 teens tied to Garrett business fire

– Eight teenagers are believed to be responsible for a burglary and fire that displaced a Garrett business in November, officials said Thursday.

The Garrett Fire Department responded to a call early Nov. 10 about a fire at the Wash and Dry Laundromat at 700 W. King St., Garrett Police Chief Keith Hefner said.

Although fire crews were able to save most of the building, the structure sustained “quite a bit of damage including smoke, water and electrical,” Hefner said.

After the fire was extinguished, investigators discovered a change machine and vending machine had been broken into and cash had been stolen, he said.

“What it looks like is the kids stole some items and then decided to light it on fire,” Hefner said. “Fortunately, it was a mostly cinderblock building, so it held the heat pretty good.”

After two months of investigation, the case was determined to be a burglary and arson by eight juveniles ages 14 to 17.

Six of the juveniles are from Garrett and two live in Noble County, Garrett police said.

The Garrett Fire Department and auxiliary, Indiana State Fire Marshal, Indiana State Police and Auburn, DeKalb County, Kendallville and Avilla police departments assisted in the investigation.

The information about the juveniles believed to be responsible was turned over Thursday to the DeKalb County Juvenile Probation Department for review, Hefner said.

“The main thing is, I understand that kids do stupid stuff, … but this is something that really put people’s lives – especially our volunteer firefighters’ lives – at risk and there’s no excuse for that,” Hefner said.

jcrothers@jg.net

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