Houston, MS – Sprinkler system keeps arson fire at high school from spreading

One person is in custody after a break in and arson at Houston High School Friday morning. According to Houston Fire Captain Jonathan Blankenship, the call came in at 2:22 a.m. Houston Police Chief Billy Voyles confirmed there was a fire and water damage to the school, as well as extensive vandalism damage to parts of the school. Patrick Nichols, 20, has been arrested and faces felony charges. He’s a recent graduate of the school and was still inside the school when police arrived on the scene.

Some of the vandalism includes damage to the school’s technology, which school officials estimate to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. “There was water damage. The sprinklers went off. There was a fire set in the old home economics room, and lots of glass broken, lots of technology destroyed,” Houston School District Superintendent Tony Cook said.

Cook says the busted technology will not only cost the district a lot of money but could hurt school testing, which is coming up soon. “The fire was started in one of the back rooms. They had a stove in the room. The subject piled some books on top of the stove and apparently turned the stove on to start the fire,” said Blakenship. However, the school’s sprinkler system kept the fire from getting out of hand.

Voyles says Nichols met an officer at the front door of the school and was detained. “He opened the door for the officers, and the officer didn’t know if he was an employee or whatever it was,” Voyles said. The motive for the incident is still under investigation.

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