Man to serve probation for setting fire

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 18, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY ó A teen charged with arson following a July 2010 fire at his familyís rental home is serving probation for that incident and says he used lack of judgment.
Jeremy Hughes, then 18, was charged with second-degree arson a day after the fire at the familyís Menius Road home.
Hughes, who has a form of autism called Aspergerís syndrome, said the fire was not set on purpose.
ěIt was a lack of judgment. It was a stupid decision on my part,î he said by phone.
The fire began on the back porch of the home and reached into the attic.
The family was unable to remain in the home following the fire. They have since moved to Cabarrus County.
Hughes said he just wants to learn from this experience, which he said was very traumatic.
Hughes, now 19, was convicted of the lesser offenses of one count of injury to real property and one count of injury to personal property, both misdemeanors.
He was given two years of supervised probation, ordered to pay $435 in court costs and attorney fees, continue with counseling, abide by rules set by his legal guardians and not possess equipment or represent himself as a public safety official. Hughes is also not allowed to live independently and must be supervised. The teen was also given 50 hours of community service.
The day of the fire, Hughes used a ham radio to contact emergency services, he said, because he was unable to get help from nearby neighbors.
The house near his familyís was abandoned and other neighbors were not home, Hughes said.
Hughes was seen the day of the fire cradling a fawn. He said the animal was a rescue and his family was working to find it a home. A wildlife officer who responded was able to place the animal, Hughes said.
ěIím usually pretty responsible. I sometimes do make stupid decisions,î Hughes said.
He said the fire ěgot really out of hand pretty quickly.î
He hopes for a future career in fire service.
ěI want to keep this from happening to other people,î he said.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.