A Milwaukee teen charged with starting a fire in the basement of a Delavan apartment building told police he built the fire to stay warm but lost control of it, according to a criminal complaint.

Alexis Herrejon-Arredondo, 17, was charged Monday in Walworth County Court with felony arson of a building and misdemeanors criminal damage to property and negligent handling of burning material.

On Wednesday, Delavan police responded to the Chestnut Ridge Apartments on Autumn Drive and saw tenants evacuating because the fire alarm was sounding, according to the complaint. An officer on the scene said smoke filled the hallways.

In the lower level of the building, police found an “unknown article” that had been lit on fire, the complaint states. The fire was extinguished and left a scorch mark about 12 inches in diameter.

Police found footprints at the rear of the building that led north toward Birchwood Street, according to the complaint. Police followed the footprints to a home in the 400 block of Autumn Drive and found Herrejon-Arredondo.

Herrejon-Arredondo said he was out all night waiting for his aunt to get home, the complaint states. He said he was “freezing” and found refuge in the apartment building’s basement, where he built a small fire to warm himself.

The fire then got out of control, according to the complaint. He tried to use water from the sink and toilet in the bathroom, but he eventually became afraid and left the scene.

Herrejon-Arredondo was given a deferred prosecution agreement in a Milwaukee County case on a charge of fourth-degree sexual assault, court records show. At the time of the Delavan incident, he had been released on bond, according to the complaint.

He is next due in Walworth County Court for an initial appearance at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday.

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