Local News

16-year-old charged in school fire

Posted July 14, 2009 5:06 p.m. EDT
Updated July 14, 2009 6:58 p.m. EDT

— Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office investigators arrested a 16-year-old Tuesday and charged him in connection with setting fire to a school two weeks ago.

William Thomas Ellis, of Cawdor Drive, was charged with burning a schoolhouse. He was being held in the Cumberland County Detention Center under a $2,000 bond.

A July 1 fire at Douglas Byrd Middle School destroyed the school gymnasium and spread to the cafeteria, where it caused the roof to cave. No one was injured in the fire.

Investigators said Tuesday that fireworks started the fire.

Last week, authorities released videos from security cameras at neighboring Douglas Byrd High School that showed three people near the middle school around the time the fire started.

Authorities said the videos helped them identify several suspects, including Ellis, who is a student at Douglas Byrd High.

Other arrests are expected in the case, authorities said.

School officials said they hope to have most repairs to Douglas Byrd Middle complete when classes begin Aug. 25. Repairs to the gym, however, likely will not be complete, and students will have to share the high school gym.