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State Fire Marshal rules Highland Middle School fire an arson

By John Published: September 22, 2010

     The State Fire Marshal has ruled the blaze that required the evacuation of more than 800 students on Monday was intentionally set.
     ''They do have additional interviews to complete,'' Fire Marshal spokesman Shane Cartmill said Wednesday afternoon.
     ''With that many people in the building at the time, there's a lot of follow-up work to do. The [Medina County] sheriff's department and the Fire Marshal investigators will continue to work through all of that.''
     The Fire Marshal eliminated all accidental causes and concluded that the fire, which originated in a shower area of the east gym that was being used for storage, was an arson.
     ''It's an ongoing criminal investigation so we just cannot release a lot of additional details at this time,'' Cartmill said.
The fire was started just after first-period classes, which required an evacuation of the building that serves 820 students in grades 6-8.
     Fire and smoke damaged the gymnasium, several classrooms and two hallways.
     District spokeswoman Dawn Marzano said the fire caused $350,000 in damage, according to initial estimates.

Release from the State Fire Marshal's public information officer this afternoon after the jump:

- The Division of State Fire Marshal has ruled Monday's fire at Highland Middle School in Medina as ARSON.

- Investigators have eliminated all accidental causes and determined that the fire was intentionally set.

- The fire originated in a gymnasium in a boy's locker room shower that had been converted to a storage area.

- Specific details about how the fire was started will not be released as this is an ongoing criminal investigation.

- The fire was set just after first period classes and, as a result, more than 800 students were evacuated; no one was injured.

- The fire and smoke affected the gymnasium, several classrooms and two hallways.

- The Division of State Fire Marshal and the Medina County Sheriff's Office are continuing the investigation.

Shane Cartmill
Public Information Officer
Division of State Fire Marshal

Ohio Department of Commerce

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