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Sources: Firebugs A Growing Problem At NYCHA Buildings

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Fire officials have been putting out more and more fires at New York City Housing Authority buildings. Residents say kids are often to blame.

Fire Department sources told CBS 2's Don Champion that in some cases, children and teenagers set furniture on fire out of boredom. Other times, fires are meant to call attention to a problem in the building.

On Sunday, two NYPD officers were critically injured while responding to a blaze at a Coney Island high-rise. One of the officers, Dennis Guerra, died Wednesday

Police say Marcell Dockery, 16, confessed to starting the mattress fire on the 13th floor because he was bored. He has been charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment and could now face a felony murder charge.

Robert Maldonado, a NYCHA resident, said he is bothered by the troubling trend of small rubbish fires being set inside public housing buildings, adding that he recently witnessed the aftermath of one.

"They left a sofa in the hallway, and they burned it up," he said. "It's ridiculous."

Part of the danger is the paint in NYCHA buildings is easily combustible. In addition, hallways and stairwells can create a tunnel effect during fires.

CBS 2 confirmed that several years ago, there were so many rubbish fires in NYCHA buildings that the City Council considered fireproofing hallways. The plan, however was killed because officials deemed it unfeasible.

Pat Lynch, president of the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said he hopes Sunday's fire teaches a lesson.

"This should be an example to any kid that's out there that's bored," he said. "There's consequences to what you do. This sometimes is life and death."

Added Maldonado: "These kids have nothing better to do. I'm here 41 years. I've seen it all."

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