A fire that cleared customers and workers from the Raley’s supermarket in the Southampton Shopping Center was started by a 5-year-old boy according to Benicia Police.
Firefighters arrived at the store at about 7:05 p.m. and found smoke in the store. Prior to their arrival a Raley’s employee used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire.
Because the fire was intentionally set it is being investigated by the Benicia Police Department as an arson fire.
“Because it’s a crime we are usually the lead investigating agency,” said Lt. Mike Daley, spokesperson for the Benicia Police Department. “We count on the expertise of the fire department to help us in the investigation.”
So far the investigation points to a 5-year-old boy who gathered candles and a lighter in the store. He lit the candles in the outdoor supplies area and packaged goods caught fire. The area damaged by the fire was approximately 3 feet by 3 feet. The fire burned near compressed propane bottles used with grills and lanterns.
“The Youth Services Officer will look at the report and work with the child’s parents and family services to determine a course of action,” said Daley. “Probably there will be no formal charges because of the age of the child.”
"We're working with police and the fire department on the investigation," said Raley's spokesman John Segale when asked if Raley's would push to press charges or seek restitution.
The store was reopened at about 7:30 p.m. after firefighters used fans and natural ventilation to clear smoke from the building. All areas of the store were open for business on Wednesday.
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