Boy in custody for Germantown house fire

Kristyna Wentz-Graff
A state fire marshal investigates a house fire that broke out early Thursday morning in Germantown on N. Shadow Wood Drive. A couple and their eight children escaped the fire.
Published on: 9/24/2009

Germantown - A 12-year-old boy was arrested Thursday on suspicion of setting the fire that destroyed his family's home at N11546 Shadow Wood Drive, Police Chief Peter Hoell said.

Hoell described the boy as being responsible for the fire but did not release other information.

Douglas and Sadie Bugni and their eight other children safely fled the burning two-story residence after a neighbor, Richard Hanson, woke them about 1:10 a.m., Hoell said. Damage to the home, garage and vehicles is estimated at $500,000.

The suspect was found outside the home after a search, Hoell said. The nine children include six girls, ages 12, 6, 6, 5, 3 and 1. The two other boys are ages 15 and 8.

Hanson lives next door and ran to help the Bugni family after he saw smoke and flames coming from their home, Hoell said. Hanson's daughter, Katie, called 911.

Richard Hanson then returned home and grabbed a hose to spray water onto the roof and siding of his home, 11560 Shadow Wood Drive, his wife, Linda, said.

Even so, the intense heat from the blaze damaged siding, she said.

Katie Hanson, 26, had been up late watching a movie when she heard "popping sounds" outside, but she could not determine the origin. When those pops started sounding more like fireworks outside of her bedroom window, she rousted her father, she said.

Richard Hanson went outside and first saw smoke in the beam of his flashlight.

"Within a matter of seconds, that ball of black smoke became big orange flames, sky high," Katie Hanson said.

The only reason that Katie was at her parent's residence and awake - and able to alert anyone to the fire - was that she had been laid off recently from a job and moved back home, she said.

Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the state fire marshal's office assisted police in the arson investigation Thursday. Hoell would not comment on why the cause of the fire was suspicious.

A village police officer was treated for minor smoke inhalation, Hoell said. No other injuries were reported.

The officer had gone into the smoke-filled home in an attempt to locate the 12-year-old boy, who had not been accounted for by family members.

The family's dog and cats also were rescued. Fish in an aquarium could not be saved.

It was not known if there were operating smoke detectors inside the home, Hoell said.

The Shadow Wood Drive neighborhood is south of Homestead Hollow County Park and north of Mequon Road.

Another neighbor, Matt Barnes, woke up to the sound of his dog barking, Barnes said. By the time he ran outside, the garage at the Bugni home already had been destroyed by the flames.

A firefighter assured him and other neighbors that all Bugni family members had been evacuated, Barnes said.

Flames lighted the sky above this heavily wooded block of homes, he said.

The village police department is collecting clothing and personal care and other items for the family, Hoell said. The family is staying with relatives.