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Child Charged for Making False Emergency Calls

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HOPE MILLS — It used to be parents taught their children not to play with matches. Now it seems it is time for another fire lesson.

Investigators say a 12-year-old boy is responsible for a rash of fake fire calls in Cumberland County, putting the lives of real victims in danger.

The twelve-year-old reported that an old food store had burned. He also called in two fake fires at a mobile home park where about half the residents are disabled.

"I was cooking supper and I walked outside because all the fire trucks come in and everybody got out and was looking," said Lawrence Skipper, a resident of the mobile home park. "Police officers were driving through trying to find something burning. There wasn't anything burning."

Investigators say the twelve-year-old called in the fires from nearby phones, then watched as the fire trucks came to the scene.

But what he didn't know was that the phones were being traced and that was how he was caught.

"It could cost someone their life, a prank call like that," said Skipper, "whether a young person does it, an old person does it, whoever does it."

The LaFayette Fire Department responded to the latest hoax.

"We drive safely but running emergency traffic people get scared. They get confused. They just want to get out of the way so it could cause an accident either with us or civilians," said firefighter Zahra Khaleghi.

But that's not the only danger.

"If we are going on an emergency call, if there's another call in our area we can't not respond to that so we either have another engine from our station or we have to get other stations involved," said Khaleghi.

So far, the 12-year-old has been charged with three misdemeanor counts of calling in a false fire.