11-year-old girl charged with arson

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An 11-year-old girl faces arson and other charges after allegedly setting a fire last week in a restroom at Washington Park Elementary School.


The fifth-grade student is accused of setting fire to a paper towel dispenser Sept. 17, said Todd Foreman, a Washington police officer who also is the school resource officer for Washington School District.


“Another student saw the fire and told a teacher, who went into the restroom with a fire extinguisher, putting out most of the fire (before) the fire department arrived,” Foreman said.


The fire forced the school to be evacuated for about 30 minutes.


Washington fire Chief Linn Brookman said the girl used matches to start the fire. The fire damaged ceiling tiles in the restroom and scorched a wall.


That area of the school was briefly closed off until the smoke could be cleared, said Dr. Roberta DiLorenzo, district superintendent.


“It was actually a roll of plastic bags the janitors keep at the bottom of a trash can that caused the smoke,” DiLorenzo said. “We brought in some fans and opened the door to disseminate the smoke.”


She said the firefighters declared the building safe for occupants before students returned. DiLorenzo said the damage to the restroom was minimal.


Foreman charged the girl in a juvenile allegation with arson, causing or risking a catastrophe and disorderly conduct. He said the girl was taken to a hospital for a mental-health evaluation.


DiLorenzo said the district is following all procedures regarding discipline and educational responsibility for the student.


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