Juvenile charged with starting house on fire

Published 3:25 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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The 14-year-old boy that authorities said was having a mental health crisis when he started his house on fire in Alden last week was charged Monday by delinquency petition with first-degree arson of a dwelling.

Because of the boy’s age, no other information about the charges is able to be released, according to Assistant County Attorney Erin O’Brien.

The Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office said last week it had received a 911 call from a neighboring residence the morning of Feb. 6, and the caller stated the boy from next door had come to her house with his pets and reportedly told her he had started his house on fire.

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The boy was taken to the emergency room for possible burn injuries and an overdose and was placed under a medical hold.

The house, at 126 W. Second Ave. W., sustained extensive damage, and firefighters from Alden, Conger, Freeborn and Wells responded to the fire.

Joshua Shaffer, the boy’s stepfather, said he and his wife wanted to thank the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office, the Alden Fire Department and other departments that responded to the fire, along with the emergency medical crew and their neighbors.

“We are cooperating with the authorities and keeping the public and our teenage son safe,” Shaffer said.