16-year-old girl sets fire in Florida hotel because she got into a fight with her mom: police

A 16-year-old girl was arrested Tuesday after allegedly setting fire to a couch in an Ocala hotel, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, after getting into a fight with her mom, according to police. 

The teen was arrested and charged with arson of an occupied structure and criminal mischief greater than $1,000, according to an affidavit from the Ocala Police Department. Given the nature of the fire, police are treating it as arson. 

The incident happened around 3 a.m. Tuesday at the Ocala Hilton on SW 36th Avenue. The hotel was evacuated at the time of the fire, but guests were able to return to their rooms the same morning, fire officials said. No injuries were reported. 

The girl called 911 herself, allegedly telling dispatchers she started a fire about 3 to 5 minutes prior, according to the affidavit. 

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Photo: Ocala Fire Department

"I got into a fight with my mom," the girl told dispatchers, according to the affidavit. "I got into a fight with my mom and then she got another room. She wasn't talking to me and then she wouldn't answer any of my calls or text messages. I don't know. It was like this couch in the lobby … I don't know what to do.

"I'm scared. I don't know what to do."

Authorities spoke to the girl's mom, who said the duo was from Illinois and on vacation in Orlando. They spent the day in Ocala to visit the springs on their way to Daytona Beach, police said. 

While at the hotel, the mother and daughter reportedly got into a fight, which isn't abnormal for them, the mom told police. 

That's when the mom said she left the room so their argument wouldn't escalate. It's unclear what they were fighting about, but the mom told police her daughter was saying she hated her and she's a horrible mother. 

The mom said she called her daughter to let her know what new room she was in, but the fire alarms went off about 15 minutes later. 

Photo: Ocala Fire Department

She went to find her daughter to get her out of the room, but she was already outside. She was found standing in the parking lot. 

"(She) has never done anything like this," the mom told police. "She is a good girl." 

Officials said the fire started in the banquet hotel of the hotel. Police and fire officials found a pile of char and ashes from what once was a couch. Black soot was traveling up the wall and onto the ceiling. The fire was extinguished entirely 7 minutes after fire officials arrived. 

Photo: Ocala Fire Department

Hotel management said the damage to the hotel is estimated at a couple hundred thousand dollars. 


Surveillance footage from the hotel shows the girl roaming the hallway between about 2:30 a.m. and 3:15 a.m. 

At 3:08 a.m., she's seen holding a phone to her ear and talking to someone. 

At 3:17 a.m. she's seen walking up to a couch with a long lighter, using it to allegedly light the corner of a pillow on fire. She's then seen walking out of the hotel through a door that leads to the parking lot where she was found. 

A lighter, similar to the one that was seen on surveillance video, was found outside the hotel near where the girl sat outside after calling 911. 

The 16-year-old was arrested and transported to the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center.