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Arson Suspected at Cumberland High School

Posted April 9, 2008
Updated April 10, 2008

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— An early morning fire that canceled classes at South View High School in Cumberland County on Wednesday appears to be arson, authorities said.

The fire started in the media center at about 3 a.m., shortly after someone broke out a window at the back of the building and set off the  school's burglar alarm, authorities said.

The fire was contained to the media center's front desk area, but some reference books and several computers were destroyed, school officials said. No injuries were reported.

An automated phone message was sent out to South View High's staff and 1,900 students before 6 a.m. to notify them the school would be closed.

School administrators plan to resume classes Thursday, although it could be two to three weeks before the media center can be used again, said Wanda McPhaul, spokeswoman for Cumberland County Schools

"We're busy trying to get things cleaned up. We've got 60 custodians working to try to get everything in place so we can have classes (Thursday)," McPhaul said.

Windows were opened throughout South View High to ventilate the school and remove the smoky odor.

"We will have to replace all of the ceiling in the media center (and) all the carpet. All the furniture will need to be cleaned," Assistant Superintendent Tim Kinlaw said.

Someone also attempted to set fire to a modular classroom, authorities said, noting they found a broken window and a burned floor mat inside.

"This is the fourth or fifth attempt to set fire (to) a school over the last eight years in Cumberland County,"  Kinlaw said. "It's just senseless. My guess is it's probably involving somebody that's teed off at the school because of something."

School administrators estimated the damage to South View High at $75,000.

Investigators with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office were reviewing videotape from a school security camera, which showed someone in the building at the time the fire was reported.

Authorities have declined to say how many people were depicted in the videotape or what was used to start the fire.


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  • wife-of-a-concrete-man Apr 9, 2008

    " Nope.... my "baby" is 22.....

    I still support the band and football, though... "

    good for you, we appreciate your support!

    I have a senior this year, so I don't have to tell you that I have empty pockets, too, at this point.

  • mrkagain Apr 9, 2008

    mrk- do you have children there now?

    Nope.... my "baby" is 22.....

    I still support the band and football, though...

  • wife-of-a-concrete-man Apr 9, 2008

    mrk- do you have children there now? just curious.

  • mrkagain Apr 9, 2008

    " AnnaMarie"

    I had two childrem there at the time. You'd probably know at least one of them, but I won't call their names. Privacy, ya know..... :-)

  • AMHall82 Apr 9, 2008

    mrkagain & wife-of-a, I was a student at CFHS when that happened, and I have to say that when I heard the radio announcer this morning say there had been a fire, that early morning when we found out about CF ran through my head. I hope the custodians are able to get it cleaner at SV than they did at CF! It smelled terrible & soot would fly out of the vents for a couple of weeks afterwards!! It was terrible learning conditions! TO the students at SVHS - don't let this get you down - you'd be surprised what an incident like this can do for your school's spirit & sense of family!!

  • patriot 16 Apr 9, 2008

    Sucks for the kids that actually want to learn.

  • wife-of-a-concrete-man Apr 9, 2008

    Maybe I should be thinking of the parents of this/these culprits, as well as the entire Tiger family. No matter how much we parents try and no matter how much we parents do, sometimes children will just go stupid on us.

    deedeedee- hardly no doubt in my mind that the culprit was a part of that Tiger family, as was the case a few years back with some of our own. Unfortunate things happen to the best of us.

  • TheWB Apr 9, 2008

    If I had a dollar for every time that I thought it was a good idea to burn down that school. That was, I "thought" it would be a good idea.


  • NCMOMof3 Apr 9, 2008

    it probably was one of the students and if the rumor mill is working, according to my son, the authorities have identified at least one of the culprits.

  • mrkagain Apr 9, 2008

    "wife-of-concrete-man, Chances are it was a part of the "tiger" family....... just like the one at cape fear was several years ago by a member of the "colt" family."

    That'd be my guess.

    How unfortunate.

    Signed - Colt Dad