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Police charge adult after youth starts fire

A Ludowici man faces charges after police said he allowed a juvenile to set a brush fire near Pecan Park.
Ludowici Police Chief Robert Poppell said Officer Sam Frank responded March 7 to the report of a fire on Azalea Street. On arrival, Frank found an uncontrolled brush fire covering approximately 200 feet next to the railroad track.  The Ludowici/Long County Fire Department was called to extinguish the fire.
Poppell said that after a short investigation, Frank contacted Andrew Blease, 18, who was believed to have been present when the fire started.
Poppell said that after the man was interviewed, it was determined that he and two juveniles, one male and one female, were present at the fire location.
The chief said the male admitted to setting the fire, saying he did it “for fun.” Blease and the female said they told the juvenile to stop, but he continued to pile debris on the fire, Poppell said, and all three fled after the fire began to grow. A witness then called the police department.
Poppell said Blease was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a child, and the Department of Juvenile Justice was contacted with regard to the male. The chief said the boy’s parents also were contacted.
“What started out as a small fire could have easily grown into a large blaze and endangered the tenants of the trailer park and the citizens of Ludowici,” Poppell said.
Blease was arrested, Poppell said, because any adult who knowingly and willfully encourages, causes, abets, or connives or aids a juvenile committing a delinquent act can face charges.
The chief added that the charge can also be applied if the adult fails to stop a juvenile from committing a delinquent act that would otherwise be a criminal offense or doesn’t report it to authorities if he or she tries to stop them but is unable to.
In traffic-related cases, Poppell said that between March 7–12, his department issued 10 citations for speeding, 12 for operating a vehicle with a suspended registration and three for having a suspended license.

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