Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bloodvein youngster admits torching home

Girl, 12, was out on bail for blaze in different house

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A Manitoba girl has admitted to helping burn down a family's home in her arson-plagued community while out on bail for starting a fire inside another house just weeks before.

The Bloodvein First Nation girl -- just 12 when she was arrested earlier this summer -- pleaded guilty Friday to two arson-related counts and for breaching a condition she not possess lighters, matches or other incendiary devices.

She cannot be identified under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The uninsured home belonging to Victoria and Jason Johnson and five of their family members was destroyed on the evening of June 5 by an arson ignited by matches.

The couple was in Winnipeg tending to the medical care of their young son after he was mauled by a dog. There were no injuries in the fire as the house was unoccupied at the time.

RCMP in the community announced the next day the girl and a friend, 14, had been arrested, placed into custody and were facing charges.

A few days later, a judge ordered the pre-teen undergo a psychological assessment after the Crown disclosed she laughed about starting the fire in her RCMP interview and indicated to police she might burn down another home.

The girl also admitted Friday she and friends started a fire inside another home in the community on April 10.

Sentencing was put off until October and will take place in the remote community of about 1,000, located about 300 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. The girl remains in custody.

The intentional torching brought to light how Bloodvein has struggled of late with a spate of dangerous arsons largely sparked by bored youth. In an interview with the Free Press after the June blaze, Chief Roland Hamilton conceded it was an issue, one prompted by a lack of supervision of kids at home. He pledged the band was taking steps to tackle the problem, including training more volunteer firefighters.

The fire at the Johnsons' was the sixth confirmed arson in Bloodvein this year, RCMP said. In 2012, the community saw eight confirmed cases.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 24, 2013 A5

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Updated on Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 6:09 AM CDT: replaces photo

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