A teenager was arrested Tuesday afternoon following a damaging fire inside a Sorrento Valley daycare, police said.
A 14-year-old has been booked into Juvenile Hall in connection with a fire at the La Jolla Children's Learning Lab that started just after 3 a.m. on Pacific Heights Boulevard.
A security guard reported the fire, which appeared to have began in a 5-foot square plastic storage bin in the center’s outdoor play area.
Inside the center, stove tops were turned on and left on with pots on the stove, a window was broken and several rooms were sprayed with a fire extinguisher.
Door knobs and walls were sprayed with graffiti as well, according to San Diego Fire Rescue spokesperson Maurice Luque.
"Nothing totally legible, it was merely somebody taking a spray paint can and just randomly just scribbling on a wall or on a toy or on door handles, it was kind of an odd situation," Luque said.
In total, fire officials estimate the fire and vandalism cost $70,000 in damage. Fire investigators said four other smaller fires were set along the playground and side of the building. Nothing inside was stolen though, center officials said.
The boy reportedly admitted to the fire and vandalism when officers took him into custody near his home in Mira Mesa. He also admitted to starting another small fire on January 29 at a church day care facility in Mira Mesa.
The center was closed Tuesday due to the investigation and cleanup, according Beth Woodward with the center’s parent company Knowledge Universe.
"At first I was kind of shocked. This kind of thing can happen at a day care," said parent Michael Gu. "It's real disappointing."
About 170 students attend school at the center. The children are being rerouted to Kinder Care Learning Centers across the county.
Knowledge Universe also runs all Kinder Cares centers in San Diego County
"To think I'm really going to work from home, taking care of him, is going to be an interesting day," said parent Rob O'Callaghan.
The daycare center may re-open as early as Wednesday.