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New Port Richey teen, 15, charged after experiment destroys apartments, causes $100,000 in damage

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 15-year-old has been arrested after detectives say he fashioned a makeshift flamethrower that destroyed two apartments and caused $100,000 in damage Monday.

With four friends watching, Michael Riddle took a can of deodorant and lit the spray with a cigarette lighter inside his mother's home at the High Points Apartments about 3:25 p.m., New Port Richey police said.

"What he conveys is that he was curious to just see if it worked," said Capt. Jeffrey Harrington. "In the process he burned his house down."

First, his shirt ignited. Then the bedroom. By the time the blaze was extinguished, it had spread to six units. No one was injured.

As the apartments burned on Monday, Michael Riddle told a Times reporter that he returned from a trip to the library to find his mother's bedroom smoking and the bed on fire.

The boy has been charged with culpable negligence, a misdemeanor charge for "inherently dangerous conduct that puts others at risk," Harrington said.

New Port Richey teen, 15, charged after experiment destroys apartments, causes $100,000 in damage 04/21/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 9:20pm]
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