Pre-Teen Girls Ignited Warehouse Blaze, Say Cops

Warehouse was packed with mulched rubber tires

By Steve Bryant
|  Tuesday, Sep 1, 2009  |  Updated 10:00 AM CDT
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Dramatic Photos: Deadly SoCal Fire Was Arson

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No dolls, this time. These girls were playing with fire.

Joliet police blamed a pair of 11-year-old girls for the Sunday night inferno that consumed an entire warehouse stuffed to the rafters with shredded tires.

Police arrested the girls on arson charges and released them to their parents.

The blaze began when the girls snuck into the warehouse of Tire Grinder Transporters, which recycles old tires by chopping them into rubber mulch.

One of the girls lit some paper on fire with a cigarette lighter, and the flames spread to baled plastic bags, according to Fire Chief Joe Formhals.

The three alarm fire blazed for nearly five hours. The warehouse roof collapsed on about 200 tons of ground rubber before firefighters subdued the flames.

"They're hard to dig through, they're hard to get through, they're hard to put out," Formhals said.

Steve Huizinga, one of the company's owners, said no one was working at Tire Grinder Transporters when the fire started and there were no injuries.

The business will remain open.

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