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12-Year-Old Arrested After Georgia Fire Displaces 33, Injures Two; Mother Says She Couldn’t Get Help for ‘Disturbed’ Boy

A Georgia mother believes that her 12-year-old son is behind an early morning fire that has displaced dozens of residents and left two people injured.

Naomi Lily told reporters that her son woke her up around 4 a.m. Monday after starting a fire in their Decatur home. Lily believes he may have been playing with matches on his bedding and tried to put out the fire with water from the kitchen, but by the time he returned to his room, the bed was consumed with fire, she said.

A fire at an apartment building in Decatur, Georgia, forced two people to jump from a third-story window. (Photo: YouTube screenshot/ 11 Alive)

“The fire ignited so quickly that my daughter couldn’t even come out of her room to come out of the hallway,” Lily said.

Lily’s daughter and her boyfriend were trapped in the next room and had to jump three floors to safety. Lily said her daughter fractured her pelvis and her partner broke his leg in the process. They had to be hospitalized.

The mother told 11 Alive that the pre-teen had been struggling with his mental health. He was arrested by DeKalb County Police. It is unclear if and what the boy has been charged with, but fire officials said the fire is being investigated as arson.

“I can’t give you a viable excuse. Other than to say he’s disturbed,” she said.

DeKalb County Fire Rescue Captain Jaeson Daniels said firefighters responded to a call about a fire at the building around 4:40 a.m. Monday. Eight apartments were damaged in the fire and 33 people had to seek assistance from the American Red Cross.

“How apartments are constructed, they usually have a common attic. With that being, once a fire reaches the attic it normally or it can run the length of the building, which it did today,” Daniels said.

Firefighters also rescued two people from an adjacent apartment. The neighbor said when his mother opened the door to exit, flames started coming in.

“So, we started trying to go through my sister’s window,” he said.

DeKalb County Police officers arrest a 12-year-old boy after an apartment fire on November 7, 2022. (Photo: YouTube screenshot/ 11 Alive)

Lily is trying to make sense of the son’s behavior and figuring out how she will restart her life after losing everything in the fire.

“Why you up at 4’o’clock in the morning is the first question, and why playing with fire for No. 2,” Lily said. “I just buried my mom yesterday on top of all of this, so I don’t know. He’s has a couple of mental issues and no one has been able to seem to give me any help with this because he’s 12, but this is the result.”

“I have a whole apartment filled with people burnt out, and that messed up everybody’s else life, and I am sorry for that, but I mean I don’t know.”

Lily also pointed out that all of her deceased mother’s belongings were in her apartment and were also destroyed in the fire.

“I am just grateful I woke up and escaped with my life,” she said.

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