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Police: 13-year-old trying to set his Cape home on fire

By Staff | May 21, 2009

A 13-year-old Cape Coral boy attempted to set his home on fire Tuesday evening and has been charged with arson, according to fire and police officials.
Investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Cape Coral Fire and Police Departments determined Robert Archbell purposely set a fire on the lanai of the home, located in the 1500 block of Northeast 35th Terrace, while his friend was inside playing on the computer at about 7 p.m., according to an arrest report.
Robert reportedly told officers he had lit a vase full of gasoline on fire and carried it to the lanai. The fire caused smoke damage and scorching to the lanai area, reports state.
The State Fire Marshal was contacted after a Cape battalion chief discovered a burned shirt in the driveway of the home and a burned piece of paper in the side yard, apparently from previous fire incidents.
Robert’s mother told police she did not keep matches or lighters in the home because of previous incidents of Robert playing with fire, according to reports.
Robert told police he lit a toothpick on fire using an electric stove in the home, then used the toothpick to light a candle and the candle to light the gasoline in the vase. An incident with a burning bowl of popcorn caused him to toss the popcorn bowl through the air, knocking the vase to the ground and creating an 8-foot circle of flames, reports state.
Robert’s friend said he became aware of the incident when the smoke alarm in the home sounded, and he helped put it out.
Due to the fact that the home was occupied, Robert was charged with first-degree arson and taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.
Reports indicate that the Department of Children and Families will follow up on the incident due to the fact that Robert was home without parental supervision.