A 13-year-old set fire to a pavilion in Littleport because he “liked to look at fires and see how they burned”.
The boy pleaded guilty to arson of the Littleport Pavilion and also to a separate charge of burglary in Cambridge Youth Court on Wednesday.
A fire was started in the pavilion on July 5 this year, causing substantial damage. The defendant said he and someone else had entered the property via the roof.
Angela Sassoli, prosecuting, said: “They both had lighters and started it together. It got out of control and they did not tell anyone.
“The fire brigade were called to a fire there which had spread to the walls and ceiling. It was difficult for them to access the location and they described it as a significant fire.”
The court was shown pictures of the pavilion after the fire, started by setting fire to items on top of a fridge.
Ms Sassoli added: “The result of this was a decision had to be made whether or not to restore the pavilion and it works out cheaper to demolish it.
“The cost varies from £12,000 to £14,000 and to restore it is in the region of £16,000.”
The court was asked to take seven other offences into account including a burglary, criminal damage and another arson on a bin.
Christine Metcalfe, mitigating, said the arson charge and the others had only come to light when the boy was questioned about some graffiti.
She said: “I cannot stress enough that the evidence has come forward because of the boy himself.”
His mother told the court that at the time of the offences, the boy was “going down the wrong path”. But, she said, it was all in a “very condensed” period and since he had started a new school he had a “much more positive aura”.
Magistrate Rosie Spencer said: “We take into account the seriousness of the offences and the scale of them as, of course, there are a lot of them.
“There are an awful lot of things that have come before the court today for such a young person and a lot of things you have done in a short period of time, some of which have some big consequences. We are not treating this lightly.”
The boy was given a nine month referral order, ordered to pay £40 as a contribution to bringing the case to court and a £15 victim surcharge.
Ms Spencer added: “A lot has happened in a short space of time. You have the whole of your life ahead of you and you can do some good things in your life. We hope not to see you again.”