Teen charged in Cary culvert fire appears in court
Posted April 25, 2013
Cary, N.C. — A 17-year-old who admitted setting fire to a culvert under Cary Parkway in March was in court Thursday morning, but his case was continued to June 4.
Tristan Zammit, of Brownfield Drive in Cary, is charged with intentionally setting fire to grass, brush lands or woodlands.
The fire caused a 12-by-8-foot culvert to partially collapse under the westbound lanes on March 21, and the road was closed for more than three weeks as crews tore up the pavement to dig up and remove about 100 feet of damaged pipe. It reopened April 15.
Police said earlier this month that they identified Zammit, a Cary High School student, as a suspect in the fire because he left his name behind and then bragged about it to a friend.
Cary police said in an application for a search warrant to obtain Zammit's cellphone and iPod Touch that firefighters found the name "Tristan" written in tar on the concrete face of the culvert. The tar had been melted off a coating used to protect the inside of the culvert from corrosion, according to the application.
Firefighters told police that the process of melting the tar could have sparked the March 21 fire.
The day after the fire, Cary Crime Stoppers received a tip that Zammit had sent a friend a text message asking the friend to go see what Zammit had done to the culvert, the search warrant application states.