PAYETTE – Two teenage boys stealing gasoline set a fire which destroyed a four-car garage, two automobiles and other contents to bring an estimated loss of some $15,000 to the Fred Robertson residence on Central Avenue Friday night, according to Chief of Police Cecil Fetter.
The boys both in junior high school admitted the offense and gave details of how it happened when they were arrested at their homes later in the evening, Fetter reported.
The cars were owned by Ike Whitely and Earle Sample, both of Payette. Other contents of the garage included factory machinery which was owned by Robertson valued at $10,000.
According to the boys’ story, the chief said, they had driven to the garage in their Model A hot rod and were stealing gasoline from the Whitely car. One of the boys had opened a cap at the bottom of the tank with a special wrench they had for the purpose. He was using a Purex bottle to catch the gasoline. When the bottle was nearly full the boy under the car dropped the cap and lit his cigarette lighter to look for it. The flame ignited gasoline spilled on the ground and the whole area immediately burst into flames. The boys then tried to start their hot rod for a getaway but when it wouldn’t start ran away from the scene.
The boy who had been stealing the gasoline received a badly burned forearm, the chief said.
Both were in bed at their homes when the when the officers called. They admitted the offense after only a few questions and told the details.
Both are being held for action by the Probate Court, which handles juvenile offenses in Idaho, Fetter said.
…… From the January 5, 1953 issue of The Argus-Observer