Diena Thompson doesn’t want anyone living in a home where Jarred Harrell 7-year-old Somer was killed, which will now be a fire training exercise for the Orange Park Fire Department and other agencies, according to the Examiner.
The Somer Thompson Foundation took over the home last year, then worked with fire officials on its fiery end as the killer serves life in prison for first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual battery and lewd and lascivious conduct.
Somer’s mother, Diena Thompson, said she didn’t want someone raising a family at the former home of Jarred Harrell, so she asked for the fire. “I am the big bad wolf this time, knocking down your door,” she said, according to the The Inquisitr.
“My children should never have to witness walking past that house and other people shouldn’t have to stare at trash all day,” Diena said Tuesday. “This has been in the works since the house has been in foreclosure. I absolutely wanted … our first responders to use the property and make it a cathartic experience for me and my community who had to live through this,” Thompson added.
Orange Park Fire Chief Chief Ty Silcox said the house fits the strict rules for a training exercise. Since it is very rare to get a home for this kind of training, it was “super important to capitalize on it” and he’s pleased that it will be destroyed as well. Diena Thompson agreed and welcomed the idea to ruining the home of Jarred Harrell by fire.
“Diena was very adamant that she wanted something good to come from that property and that first responders have the chance to get some good training to benefit their community and that is the most important part of it,” Silcox said. “And it is a great opportunity for the community to heal. It is a constant reminder and it’s been there a while.”
Somer disappeared Oct. 19, 2009, while walking down Gano Avenue from Grove Park Elementary School. Jarred was in the home, owned then by his mother. He lured her in and smothered her, tossing her body in a trash bin behind a Fleming Island restaurant where he once worked. Hauled away the next day, her body was found Oct. 22 in a Georgia landfill as hundreds of people searched.
Harrell, then 24, was arrested in February 2010. The house remained empty until the bank that owned it transferred ownership to The Somer Thompson Foundation. From there, the Orange Park Fire Department was contacted.
Silcox said that a certified “live fire trainer” was on the scene 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or the exercise. The house was burned between 1 and 3 p.m., with smaller training fires lit and extinguished by firefighters throughout the morning. Road closures occurred during the training but no neighbors had to evacuate. Extra crews from the city fire department and Clay County Fire Rescue provided fire suppression as they participate in the training.
“Burn, baby, burn,” Diena Thompson said as she watched the flames, according to The Florida Times-Union Jacksonville. It all happened quickly, as the flames turned the former home into a shell after she threw a flare inside during a firefighter training exercise.
Diena Thompson and her family were near the Jarred Harrell home when it was set on fire. She said there are plans for the property that include some kind of garden as a memorial to her daughter. Details will be announced soon by the Somer Thompson Foundation.