PATERSON, N.J. (AP) _ A Superior Court judge said today that there is sufficient evidence to hold two 12-year-old boys on charges they set a fire in Passaic earlier this week that scorched 40 acres, gutted 17 factories and left 116 families homeless.

Superior Court Judge Carmen Ferrante said the two boys did not testify during today's probable cause hearing, but have made statements to authorities about their involvement.

Officials have said the Labor Day blaze was started in an open drum between two factories.

''They (the boys) accused each other of putting the match to it (the drum),'' said Ferrante.

The judge said he would decide later today on a defense motion to release the boys from the Passaic County juvenile detention center.

He said he asked his staff to determine whether the boys would be eligible for home detention. Under the program, the defendants would be released into the custody of their parents, but would have to follow rules such as reporting to authorities every day and attending group therapy.

Ferrante said there were some concerns about the boys' safety if they are released from the detention center because of possible threats from the community.

The judge said the parents of one boy told him that if their son was released they would have him stay with relatives.

Ferrante said the trial was scheduled to begin Oct. 11. The boys officially are charged with juvenile delinquency in the fire.

The names of the defendants are being withheld because of their age.