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Cary fire suspect texted friend to brag about vandalism

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Tristan Zammit Tristan Zammit
CARY, N.C. -

Warrants released today in connection with a fire that significantly damaged a portion of Cary Parkway indicate the suspect may have been attempting to vandalize the culvert when the fire ignited.

The suspect, investigators say, then contacted a friend to brag about the vandalism.

Tristan Zammit, 17, of Cary, is charged with a Class 2 Misdemeanor: Intentionally Setting Fire to Grass, Brush lands, or Woodlands in the case of a culvert fire that significantly damaged a portion of Cary Parkway on March 21.

The fire caused damage to a 12-by-8 foot culvert that will require 100 feet of pipe to be replaced. The repairs will include tearing up the pavement, replacing the damaged pipe and repaving.

Zammit admitted to starting the fire, police said. If convicted, Zammit faces up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

A probable cause affidavit released Thursday indicates the suspect melted a portion of the culvert's protective layer of bituminous -- more commonly known as asphalt -- coating and reapplied it to the outside of the pipe to spell the name "TRISTAN."

"A direct result of the sustained heat source to the bituminous coating could have been a vapor which produced a flame," the affidavit says. "This flame could have been the origin of the fire within the culvert pipe and surrounding grass, woods and brush."

Investigators say Zammit texted a friend the day after the fire to show them what he had done to the culvert.

Last week, the N.C. Department of Transportation awarded Connecticut-based Lane Construction a contract to make repairs to the parkway.

Cary Parkway is expected to re-open by April 15. Work is scheduled to take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., although it could switch to 24 hours a day if needed to finish the work on time.

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