DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – Four teenagers have been charged with starting a massive fire Tuesday at a vacant train station.
A firefighter was injured when he was thrown to the ground by the force of the fire as he made entry into the building. The firefighter, who suffered burns to his neck and ears, was treated and released from the hospital.
Delray Beach Fire Rescue responded to the structure fire shortly after 10:15 a.m. when a 911 caller reported seeing heavy smoke coming from the train station. The caller also described four young males running from the train station toward Atlantic Avenue.
When firefighters arrived, they saw heavy smoke and flames coming from the 7,500-square-foot building. Smoke billowed from the roof and upper windows. Palm Beach County Fire Rescue assisted in the response. Between the two agencies, there were approximately 30 units at the scene, as well as fire investigators.
As firefighters continued to attack the fire, Delray Beach Police Department detectives obtained surveillance video from a nearby gas station that showed the juveniles running west. Before firefighters had the fire out, police identified and located all four teens at Atlantic Community High School where they are students. Each will be charged with burglary and arson. They were transported to the Juvenile Assessment Center.
The train depot was constructed in 1927 and was used as train station until 1991. It was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1986, becoming one of six Delray Beach historic sites on the register. The city bought it in 2005 and had discussed setting aside $325,000 for a renovations. The building was vacant and used by the city for storage of lawn maintenance equipment.
Resident Christy Devendor was distraught over the devastation. “This is Delray. It’s a small town. I work for a local builder and we’re trying to build the town up and make it better and by people destroying things in a historic area. This is terrible.”