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Greenwood junior/senior high evacuated for restroom fire

One Greenwood Junior/Senior High School student is facing ongoing discipline after starting a fire in a restroom last week and forcing the evacuation of the student body.

The fire was first noticed by custodial staff about 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 13, in the boys restroom across the lobby from the west gymnasium. Custodial staff put out the fire with an extinguisher, and the Greenwood Fire Department responded to make sure the fire was out and to ensure it hadn’t spread to a ceiling or elsewhere.

District Administrator Todd Felhofer said a student lit toilet paper rolls inside a plastic dispenser on fire, and the burning paper and melting plastic created thick smoke. As staff members extinguished the fire, students and staff members were evacuated from the building. The Greenwood Bus Service sent buses to the school in case students had to be sent home for the day.

Felhofer said quick discovery of the fire and the fact that it was limited to a bathroom stall meant classes could be resumed.

“I think the kids were probably out of class for 30 or 40 minutes, tops,” he said. “By lunch time, we were completely back on schedule.”

The Greenwood Police Department also responded quickly to the scene and helped school officials deal with the situation.

“Obviously, it was a deliberate act,” Felhofer said. “We had the individual correctly identified quickly.”

That student faces “ongoing discipline,” Felhofer said.

Despite it being a potentially serious situation, Felhofer said the school evacuation went smoothly and the staff’s quick action kept potential damage to a minimum.

“It was discovered very quickly,” he said. “Our custodial staff extinguished the fire before the fire department got here. Thankfully, minimal damage.”