1. #1
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    Post Washington County Fla--Fire Damages School

    NEWS HERALD

    VERNON SCHOOL FIRE

    A fire badly damaged the Vernon High School gymnasium Wednesday night, although firefighters from several departments quickly brought it under control.

    No injuries were reported, said a dispatcher at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Early estimates put damages at $50,000.

    Investigator Chris Welch with the State Fire Marshal’s Office was still on the scene at 10:30 p.m., but no further details were available. There was no immediate word on whether classes will be affected today.

    Fire officials had said earlier the fire apparently started in two classrooms outside the gym. Fire departments from Vernon, Chipley and Wasau, as well as EMS units, responded.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  2. #2
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    Post Officials Investigate Closely..Lean towards Arson

    Vernon school’s gym fire probed

    ARSON? Officials use dogs to determine if the fire was intentional.



    By Anthony Cormier News Herald Writer 747-5089 / acormier@pcnh.com

    Students returned to Vernon High School Thursday morning to find investigators, K-9 units and insurance agents examining the gymnasium that caught fire Wednesday evening.

    The State Fire Marshal’s office labeled the blaze suspicious, as Lt. Les Nelson said investigators "are unable to find an accidental cause at this time."

    Nelson, Investigator Chris Welch and others worked with the Accelerant K-9 Team to probe the charred gym, which starting burning around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday.

    Principal Bill Lee said workers were tearing out the floor earlier in the day. Although no one was in the building at the time of the fire and no one was injured, the gym had significant damage from heat and smoke.

    Investigators don’t yet have an official estimate, Nelson said, although the damage appears to be in the $50,000 to 75,000 range.

    While they don’t know the cause of the fire, officials said debris samples were sent to a lab in Tallahassee Thursday afternoon.

    "We’re looking at the fire as suspicious," Nelson said. "Inter views are in progress, and we’re waiting on results from the lab. It’s still under investigation."

    According to Lee, the school opened Thursday just as it had for the first week — on time, with a full day of classes, meet ings and homework. School began last Friday in Washington County, and Lee said the Ver non faculty and support staff are eager to keep things in order.

    "We’re fortunate, really, that this happened after school," he said. "What could have been a major tragedy was just a tragedy, or an aggravation."

    Because officials decided to replace the gym floor before the school year, they already had been in contact with other schools and facilities about sharing space. The overall impact, however, still is unclear, as a slate of sports and activities need a home soon.

    "We’re going to do as well as we can," Lee said. "We’re going to ask our folks to be flexible, work through this and keep on trucking."
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  3. #3
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    Post 10 year old arrested.....

    10-year-old charged in Vernon fire

    By Anthony Cormier News Herald Writer 747-5089 / acormier@pcnh.com

    Investigators arrested a 10-year-old Washington County boy Friday afternoon and charged him with starting a fire inside the Vernon High School gymnasium this week.

    Authorities did not release the juvenile’s name. They said he was taken to the Washington County juvenile detention center and faces a felony count of criminal mischief with damage in excess of $1,000.

    He was released to his parents shortly after he was booked. The State Fire Marshal’s Office deemed the fire "suspicious" Thursday afternoon after examining the gym with the K-9 Accelerant Team as students returned to classes.

    The blaze started around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday. Firefighters from Vernon, Chipley and Wausau responded and quickly contained the flames. Estimates put damage between $50,000 and $75,000.

    After eliminating all accidental causes, Welch said authorities began treating the case as arson. They sent debris to a lab in Tallahassee on Thursday but did not have to wait for the results. Aided by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Fire Marshal Investigator Chris Welch spoke with people in the neighborhood near the school. "Students and people who live in that neighborhood" said they saw a young boy in the area, Welch said.

    "He was seen near the gymnasium around the time of the fire," Welch said.

    Investigators found and interviewed the 10-year-old Friday, when Welch said the boy admitted starting a smaller fire inside the gymnasium. Investigators don’t believe he meant to bring down the whole gym, and he may have gotten scared when the fire got out of control.

    They chose criminal mischief, a third-degree felony, as the charge rather than charging the boy with arson, a first-degree felony.

    "He seems to be all right," Welch said. "He admitted to starting a fire, but I don’t think he meant to do as much damage as he did. That’s basically why there was no arson charge."
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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