Baton Rouge, LA – Sprinklers keep arson fire at high school from spreading

Two boys were arrested Tuesday on accusations of setting a fire at Glen Oaks Senior High School, which came days after a similar incident, District Six Fire Chief Joel Hancock said. The boys, a 13-year-old and 11-year-old, were arrested around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in a fire at the flooded high school determined to have been deliberately set, according to the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities responded to a similar incident Friday night, also determined arson, however fire investigators do not believe the juveniles in custody are also responsible for the first incident, said Baton Rouge Fire Department spokesman Curt Monte. BRFD investigators assisted District Six Fire Department Tuesday night. The two juveniles are accused of going into the shuttered school and setting about five damaged computers on fire, Hancock said Wednesday morning. Witnesses saw the boys running from the school after the fire had started, Hancock said.

The boys have been booked into juvenile detention on counts of simple arson, criminal trespassing and unauthorized entry, Monte said.  The flames caused little damage, Hancock said, but investigators determined arson was the cause. The Friday night fire at the school was also set to some old computers, Hancock said.  Adonica Duggan, a spokeswoman for the schools, said the fire on Friday triggered the school’s sprinkler system and there’s concern about water and smoke damage. She said she’s still gathering details about what additional damage might have resulted from Tuesday’s fire.

Representatives of the East Baton Rouge Parish school system and Aramark, the private company that maintains school buildings, were at Glen Oaks Senior High School at 6650 Cedar Drive Wednesday morning to assess the damage. They congregated in the school’s L building, the only building damaged by fire Tuesday night and where the fire started and was contained Friday.  The building, which has been gutted since the August flooding, had piles of electronics, computers and furniture gathered in the center hallway. Most of it looked wet and water pooled on the floor in spots. Fire damage was not readily visible.

Fifteen out of 17 buildings at the north Baton Rouge high school took in water in August. School officials are planning to reopen the school, which has been relocated across town for months, by fixing up a few of the least damaged buildings and installing several temporary buildings. A much more expensive permanent repair of the high school is slated to come after that.

The L building is one of the buildings slated to be repaired quickly. Duggan said school officials are examining the damage to see if the building can be fixed up in time for the beginning of the 2017-18 school year on Aug. 10.

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