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2 charged with arson after fire at Marshall youth shelter

By Naomi Prioleau
July 6, 2013 at 11 p.m.

Two male juveniles were held Saturday at the Willoughby Juvenile Detention Center after being charged with arson. The names of the juveniles were not released.

Shortly after 2 a.m., Saturday morning, fire units with the Marshall Fire Department were dispatched to West Burleson Street, in response to a structure fire at the East Texas Open Door. In a press release from the department, it stated that they were quickly able to extinguish the fire.

No injuries were reported.

Upon arrival, officers from the Marshall Police Department found two male teenagers who said they were attempting to rescue the sleeping residents in the facility. Assistant fire chief, Reggie Cooper said they determined the two intentionally set the fire after they smelled smoke on them.

"MPD was the first to arrive and they had a very quick response and that was one of the things that helped us a whole lot and they quickly noted the smell of some smoke on their clothing," he said.

Cooper said the situation could have been worse since it was an older house.

"It could have been very bad since it is an old structure," he said. "With the quick action of the police and fire department it was outstanding how well we were able to work together and that the smoke detectors worked. Everything worked out for the best even though it was a bad situation."

The case is still pending .

East Texas Open Door was established in 1984. In an interview with the Marshall News Messenger in November 2012, Administrator Exa DiGiovanni. said the organization started as an emergency youth shelter, a private non-profit.

"If a runaway showed up at a grocery store, the police could bring them to the shelter and then get in touch with the family," she said.

ETOD has gone through many changes since it opened in 1984 and now operates a General Residential Operation, or group home, and Residential Treatment Center, RTC, both homes located in Marshall.



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