UPDATE: Whitwell High arson suspect arrested by sheriff's office
UPDATE: A suspect wanted for starting a fire at Whitwell High School over the weekend has been arrested.
Marion County Sheriff Bo Burnett confirms the arrest.
During a press conference on Monday evening, Detective Matt Blansett identified the suspect as 18-year-old Robert Cameron Dalton of Whitwell.
Sheriff Burnett says Dalton, who was a former student of the school, confessed to setting the fire but no motive was given.
Dalton is charged with arson and burglary. This is the first time he has ever been arrested.
Damage to the school is estimated at $10,000.
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PREVIOUS STORY: Students in Whitwell returned to class today, about 24 hours after someone set their school on fire.
Police are still looking for the man who doused the school in gasoline shortly after the football team claimed its first state title.
Fire retardant tiles helped to protect Whitwell High from arson.
One day after an unidentified man set a fire inside, it was hard to spot any damage.
“The fire retardant carpet did its job, so really were just going to be replacing a few squares of carpet and some ceiling tiles,” said Larry Ziegler.
Assistant Director of Schools Larry Ziegler says the math quad of the school was the only area that was damaged.
Students were able to return to class Monday morning after fire crews gave the all clear.
As a precaution, air purifiers have been placed in the hallways.
“Just to make sure the environment was safer for our kids there were no fumes in the area so we can have school as normal,” said Ziegler.
Ziegler says it's disappointing that this happened.
“We want to have our kids excited about coming to school,” said Ziegler. “When you have to deal with something that takes away from that it takes time away from what we need to focus on.”
It's clear what students are choosing to focus on.
After a state championship victory Saturday night, they gathered in the cafeteria Monday morning to celebrate.
Ziegler says the school system will file an insurance claim, and hopes to have the repairs complete soon.
A $1,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.
If you know who this man is or where is he located, you are asked to call the Whitwell Police Department's non-emergency number 423-595-3183.