11-year-old student charged for lighting school on fire
An 11-year-old student has been arrested for lighting his elementary school on fire.
The boy is charged with aggravated arson after investigators believe he started the fire in the paper towel dispenser in the boys' bathroom.
It happened at Barger Academy in the 4800 block of Brainerd Rd. around 11:45 Friday morning. The fire caused an estimated $10,000 in damage and hundreds of students had to be sent home.
"I was a little bit scared because I thought someone was going to get caught in the smoke," said student, Summer Coleman. A fire alarm cut the second grader's lunch short on Friday, but it wasn't a drill this time.
"We went down the hallway and we saw smoke," she said. "It was really clouded and everyone was trying to get to their teachers."
The paper towel dispenser in the first floor boys' bathroom was burning.
Firefighters kept the damage to the bathroom, but the amount of smoke it created was a concern. "That's dangerous, smoke is what kills people," said Bruce Garner, Chattanooga Fire Dept. Fortunately, the students and faculty got out quickly so they weren't exposed to it for a long period of time."
Anita McAfee followed the sirens to the school, rushing to find Summer, her niece, in the crowd of students outside.
"I saw all the emergency personnel, and I said, 'I need to get out, my niece is there'," McAfee said. She said she's in relief that it wasn't worse. "My heart was racing, mind was racing, but I'm good," she said. "And Summer's good as well."
Large fans are helping ventilate smoke from the school. Administrators hope to have the building in shape to resume classes on Monday.