Fourth Fire Started At High School - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

04/22/04-Nacogdoches

Fourth Fire Started At High School

by Donna McCollum

Parents of Nacogdoches High School students are concerned for their children's safety. There have been four fires intentionally set on the campus in the last week.

Another fire Thursday left one person hurt. Ninth grade teacher Nancy White received oxygen after suffering smoke inhalation from the latest fire at the Nacogdoches High School. This one was discovered in a classroom while students were at lunch. White's son, Lance,came to his mother's comfort. The high school junior was obviously worried. She had been cut by broken glass while getting a fire extinguisher. White is ready for the fires to stop. "It's starting to get ridiculous. It's not funny any more when it happens to someone in your family. I don't know what the motives are, but it needs to stop."

Firefighters allowed our cameras in the school for a closer look. Police stood at the door way, but didn't prevent us from doing our job. However, Superintendent Dr Tony Riehl strongly objected when he discovered the media's presence placing his hand over the lens. "We have jurisdiction over the building," he said after ordering a reporter to leave.

Police apologetically abided Riehl's request to keep the media out of the building. Riehl refused comment on the incident saying the matter was still under an investigation.

However, Fire Marshall Terry Westmoreland described what he saw. "The damage was moderate. It probably burned a place on the wall about six to seven feet wide, all the way to the ceiling."

There were two other fires. One was started in this girl's bathroom Thursday morning and another yesterday in a boy's restroom in the same wing. According to the officer, both fires were quickly put out by school personnel. The first emergency firefighters were called to was last Friday.

Westmoreland says there aren't any suspects and he's treating it as an arson investigation. "We will be diligent as we are in all arson cases, but I would be remised if I didn't say we'd put a little extra effort as we're talking about the future, our children."

Just days before the TAK's test the fire drills interrupt the school day. Administrators to investigators are getting impatient. As one officer said, he's ready to make an arrest now.

Authorities are continuing to search for the suspect or suspects who are responsible for starting the fires. When caught, that person could face a second degree felony charge of attempted arson.

If you have any information about the fires, you can give an anonymous tip by calling Nacogdoches Crimestoppers at 560-INFO or by dropping a tip-card into one of the four Crimestoppers drop lockers on the high school campus. If your tip results in an arrest, you may be eligible for a cash reward.

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