Police say Friday's fire at 23 Newton St. was set by two 10-year-old girls. One of the mothers hopes her daughter will be cleared of all charges if any are filed.
"Obviously we had a suspicious fire," Norwalk Police Chief Kevin Cashen said.
"We're following through. We fully expect to clear this case and (we) know who started the fire. Due to the age of the kids, it's unknown at this time if they will be charged, but I hope our system would get them (counseling) help they need so this won't happen again."
Cashen described the children's parents, who are aware of the situation, as cooperative. He said the girls admitted to starting the fire after being confronted by detectives, but not before that.
One of the mothers said her daughter told her about the incident late Saturday night. The mother explained that nobody besides the Reflector had spoken to her family the night of the fire.
Cashen attributed detectives getting information about the suspected arson to "good police work." "They were interviewing people around this incident," he added.
The two girls apparently were in an empty apartment before the fire, the mother said. The girl accused of starting the fire lives in the same apartment complex where the incident occurred.
The other girl, who lives on Baker Street, said her friend "found a blue lighter and started a fire," her mother said.
"They (police) had reports they saw two little girls ... running out of the building. Shortly after that, the fire started," the woman said.
She confirmed her daughter's earlier interview with the Reflector, that she and the Newton Street girl went directly to Baker Street.
The woman said her daughter "literally freaked out and came running home to tell us."
"She told me, 'There's a fire on Newton.' She was scared to death. She was shaking," the woman continued.
After sharing the news, the woman drove her husband to Newton Street. He said he jumped out of the car and "started pounding on doors and windows."
"He's the one who went into the burning building and is still breathing the same smoke," the mother said Wednesday. "He literally went into the building. He's still suffering from it."
After the fire
Investigators have said the fire was contained to one unit, causing about $20,000 worth of damage. There were no injuries, but the Red Cross made arrangements for three families to spend the weekend in a hotel.
The Baker Street girl and her parents saw police photos of the damage to the inside of the apartment. The mother described her daughter's reaction to seeing the after effects of the fire.
"Her eyes got huge," the woman said, adding her daughter "pinpointed" where the blaze started. "She said, 'She started it right there.'"
Both girls, within an hour after the fire, said they were riding their bicycles up and down Newton Street when they saw smoke coming out of a window. Eleven Norwalk firefighters responded at 6:47 p.m., when fire was coming out of the rear window of apartment 5-A.
"I pointed to it and said, 'Fire! Fire!' She said, 'Let's go. ... We just got on our bikes and took off," the Baker Street child said Friday.
Her mother believes her daughter didn't start the fire.
When her daughter came home Friday, she "turned ghost white and messed with her hands," the woman said. Those mannerisms, she explained, are ones her daughter regularly does when she's lying.
The mother said Newton Street is a new place for her daughter to play.
"That's the first time I know of her being there," she added. "I didn't even know she was there (Friday)."
Her daughter "apparently" became fast friends with the Newton Street girl after they met at Maplehurst Elementary School, the mother said.
The Baker Street girl is grounded until further notice, but is still attending school. The girl isn't allowed to go to any friend's houses without both parents meeting each other.
Her mother said she and her husband explained to their daughter the legal consequences if she is charged.
"She's never ever done anything like this," the mother added.
State fire marshal investigators were continuing their investigation and hadn't released an origin or cause as of Monday.
Cashen hopes to have the case closed by the end of the week.
"Currently the case is not completed, but once it is completed, it will be forwarded to the Huron County Prosecutor," he said.
Multiple attempts to reach the Newton Street girl and her parents were unsuccessful Wednesday.