Student sets fire to mens’ restroom

A student set off a smoke bomb in the boy’s bathroom located in the Spirit House during the school day on March 10. Students and staff discovered the smoke bomb and followed safety precautions that would be for a fire, by calling the fire department and having students evacuate the building. 

“We had a student go into the washroom and start a fire, that ignited the toilet tissue in there and also the plastic that holds the toilet tissue, causing significant smoke and fire damage,” principal Dr. Darrell Echols said. 

Early in the morning, before 10 a.m., an announcement was projected to students and staff telling them that a  hold in place was in place, which meant they could not leave their classrooms at the time. 

“We put a hold in place knowing that the fire department was on its way to help us. Officer Kern had contacted them and so we thought it was isolated in that particular area, which it was, but to be on the safe side we wanted to call a hold in place,” Echols said. 

Several students were taken off guard because they did not realize what was really happening. When told to evacuate, some students did not realize that it was a real fire and did not know where to go. Especially for student Jack Horne who was the first to report the fire to the faculty. After taking a break to go to the bathroom, he noticed an orange glow and a lot of smoke. He immediately notified a teachers assistant who directed him to the office where a dean took action, obtaining a fire extinguisher and putting out the flame. 

“Once I saw this, within five minutes of finding it smoke was already pouring out into the spirit house,” said Jack Horne. 

Juniors were taking the Illinois State Science Test on March 10 and they were not properly instructed on how to take proper precautions and be safe throughout the situation. 

The initial hold in place was to guarantee students were safe and not navigating through the hallways with any sort of potential danger. The faculty was under the impression that the fire was out and there was no present danger for the students. Administrators also hoped to prevent anything that may interfere unnecessarily with the administering of the Illinois State Science Test. 

Once discovering the fire was not all the way out, they pulled the fire alarm and attempted to get all the smoke out of the washroom while the students evacuated the school.

As for future precautions, there will be monitors situated outside of all the bathrooms. They will check students entering and leaving the bathrooms to prevent any such incidents. 

“And it’s unfortunate that we have to do that,” Echols said, “but we have some other people that unfortunately are not here to learn. They’re here to do something else. And so we just have to protect all of our students by monitoring the washrooms.”

Moving forwards, students can expect more security regarding the bathrooms and more precautions to prevent any such incidents from happening again. 

“Right now we are monitoring the washrooms during the day until the remainder of the year,” Echols said.