Fire forces evacuation at city middle, high schools

Cause of small blaze under investigation after recent arsons elsewhere

October 07, 2004|By Baltimoresun.com Staff and Sun staff

A fire reported just after 8 a.m. today forced the evacuation of students and faculty at Thurgood Middle and High schools, according to Fire Department spokesman Kevin Cartwright, the latest in a spate of recent blazes at city schools.

"It was just a small fire located in the nursing suite," Cartwright said. The schools at 5000 Truesdale Ave. were evacuated because smoke was spreading through the building, he added.

There were no injuries reported.

The fire was initially reported to be an electrical blaze, but the cause was still under investigation, Cartwright said.

The fire was easily contained, according to Cartwright, and the middle school students had been allowed back inside.

"The high school students will be let back in shortly, after the cleanup is complete," he said about 10:30 a.m.

Two minor fires were set in restrooms at Forest Park High School in Northwest Baltimore yesterday, forcing students and faculty to evacuate twice during the school day.

The fires were reported at 9:52 a.m. and 1:43 p.m. and were extinguished by the time firefighters arrived at the Eldorado Avenue campus, Cartwright said.

According to Cartwright, school arsons -- including at least 16 fires set at Walbrook High Uniform Services Academy on the city's west side this school year -- have caused concern among fire officials.

Firefighters assigned to the department's juvenile fire-setter program have been interviewing teenagers to try to figure out why they are setting them, Cartwright said. He said the city fire marshal has also been concentrating on school fires recently.

In an attempt to stop the fires at Walbrook, a city firetruck and four-member crew have been assigned to the school full time.

October 7, 2004, 11:18 AM EDT

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