KINGSTON — A 15-year-old student will face arson charges in connection with last week’s fire inside a bathroom at Sanborn Regional High School, police said.
The male student was taken into custody and questioned last Thursday — the day of the fire.
“This fire is still under investigation at this time to see if there are any additional individuals that may have been involved to any extent,” Kingston Police Chief Donald Briggs Jr. said Monday.
The school reopened Monday, but the second-floor boys’ restroom where the fire occurred is expected to remain closed for the next few weeks.
Fire officials have said the fire started in the area of a toilet paper dispenser and it appears to have been intentionally set. The fire was discovered around 11 a.m. Thursday and was extinguished by two special education teachers before firefighters arrived.
Students and staff evacuated the school, which was forced to close until classes resumed Monday.
Briggs said the school’s custodial staff was able to shut down the school’s air handling system quickly to prevent more smoke damage in the building.
The fire damage was confined to the bathroom, but Briggs described the damage from smoke and soot as “extensive.”
An environmental cleaning crew has worked with subcontractors to repair the damage. Air scrubbers and deodorizer machines were temporarily installed and the school’s HVAC system had to be cleaned out. Walls, furniture and other surfaces also had to be cleaned and hundreds of ceiling tiles had to be replaced, according to school principal Brian Stack.
In his many years as chief, Briggs said he’s seen incidents where students set fires in trash barrels, but this is the most serious blaze given the extent of the smoke damage that resulted on the second floor of the school.
“It was very fortunate that the fire did not spread any further than what it did. It could have placed a lot of individuals in a very unsafe position,” he said.
Cost estimates for the repairs and cleanup weren’t available Monday.
The high school serves students from Fremont, Kingston and Newton.