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Arson Vandals Wreak $70K in Damage at Day-Care Center

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A 14-year-old boy was arrested today within hours of allegedly carrying out a fiery vandalism rampage that wreaked an estimated $70,000 worth of monetary losses at a Sorrento Valley day-care center, authorities reported.

A security guard at a nearby building reported the non-injury arson blazes at La Jolla Children's Learning Lab in the 10000 block of Pacific Heights Boulevard about 3 a.m., according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

It took crews only a few minutes to douse the flames, which burned a plastic storage shed next to the center along with several other sections of exterior wall and parts of an adjacent playground, SDFRD spokesman Maurice Luque said.

In addition to allegedly starting the fires, the teen is suspected of discharging a chemical fire extinguisher in a kitchen area and several other rooms; painting graffiti on walls, doors and toys; turning on stove-top burners and leaving them ignited; and throwing a chair through a window, possibly as a means of getting into the building.

Nothing was stolen, though there were computers and other valuables inside the business at the time of the destructive spree.

Arson investigators put the fire damages at $10,000 and set the rest of the property losses at $60,000.

Later in the morning, San Diego police arrested the teenager, whose name was withheld because he is a minor, and took him to juvenile hall for booking. It was not immediately clear where the boy was taken into custody.

No other suspects were being sought, according to Luque.

The youth allegedly admitted to committing the destructive acts and told investigators he also was responsible for another small fire that caused minor damage to a Mira Mesa church late last month, the spokesman said.

Luque said he had no information on a suspected motive for the crimes.

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