Pre-teen girls confess to setting park pavilion on fire

(WMC-TV) - Two 12-year-old girls are charged with setting fire at a city park in Atoka, Tennessee, in south Tipton County.

The pavilion at Walker Park is one of Atoka's newest places for families to gather.

But now, residents will have to find someplace else to go after two young girls allegedly set the pavilion on fire.

"We have a lot of soccer teams that practice out here. I know a lot of schools use this area for cross country and families that like to come and enjoy an evening out," explained Atoka Park and Recreation Director Brian Peel.

Peel said damages to the burned out building total around a $100,000.

A passerby noticed flames from the building a week and a half ago. Police say the two teens confessed to the crime after being summoned to juvenile court.

They say their parents have cooperated with investigators.

"It's a very tough case. I guess you can look at it two ways, it's twelve year olds but I guess on the other side, it's probably a bit of a relief knowing there's not a serial arsonist running around," said Atoka Police Chief Jessie Poole.

The restrooms at the pavilion at Walker Park are boarded up. Police say that is where the fire began. The say the girls tried to set something on fire in a trash can.

"If you go for a walk in the park now, you have to make plans because now you can't use the restroom," said Peel.

Atoka officials say demolition of the burned out pavilion should begin sometime next week. They plan to rebuild a pavilion in the park.

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