A former member of Sumter Fire Department’s program for young people interested in fire fighting was given a $15,000 bond after he allegedly caused a fire in his family’s home Monday.
Thomas Euten, 17, is charged with second-degree arson for allegedly causing approximately $40,000 in damage to his family’s rented double-wide mobile home on Pantego Drive after playing with matches, making the residence uninhabitable.
Though he was staying with family before the fire, no one from Euten's family attended his bond hearing at Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center.
His mother was heartbroken, said Investigator Randy Stewart with Sumter County Sheriff's Office.
Euten lived in the home - which was about 40 percent engulfed when firefighters arrived - with his mother, sister, his sister's boyfriend and his sister's 1-year-old child, Stewart said.
The baby's room was the first part of the house to catch fire, he said.
The fire spread to the house after a couch in the yard caught fire while Euten was throwing matches outside, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.
A call about the fire was received about 3:40 p.m., and the fire was under control 20 minutes after firefighters arrived at 3:54 p.m., according to an incident report from Sumter Fire Department.
Euten is charged with second-degree arson because he willfully and maliciously lit those matches - even if he did not intend to start the house fire - and subsequently destroyed a dwelling, leaving his family homeless, Stewart said.
Euten partially admitted to causing the fire but claimed the fire was an accident though he knowingly lit those matches around flammable items, Stewart said.
He also attended the fire department's Explorer program - which prepares teenagers for future careers in the fire service - for about six months, he said.
He is not enrolled in school, Stewart said, though he would be in the 10th grade. He was expelled from Lakewood High School a few months ago, he said.
Aside from the $15,000 bond, Euten must also return equipment and clothing provided to him by the fire department, at the request of Division Chief Brian Christmas and Battalion Chief Joey Duggan - both with Sumter Fire Department.
Euten gave permission for the fire department to retrieve the items from a relative's house though he said a few things were destroyed in the house fire.
Euten made bail on Tuesday afternoon and is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on March 16.
He faces three to 25 years in prison if convicted of second-degree arson.
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