Fire closes Southview High School

April 10, 2008 4:46:52 AM PDT
Classes at South View High School in Hope Mills are canceled after an early morning fire.

Cumberland County fire officials say the blaze that broke out around 3 a.m. is suspicious.

Investigators say there is evidence of a break-in in the back of the school, where a glass door had been busted out.

They are going over surveillance videos that captured several people inside the school at the time of the crime.

Hope Mills Mayor Eddy Dees says it shows more than one person, wearing hoods just before the fire.

Damage is estimated to be around $75,000 and the library will be closed for several weeks. Dozens of custodians worked to clean up the heavily damaged library all day Wednesday.

"It got hot real quick and burnt all the ceiling tiles and got into the upstairs media center as well," Dees said.

Investigators say gasoline was used to accelerate the blaze -- everything from books to furniture to computers was destroyed.

At some point, the culprits also tried setting a portable classroom on fire.

"They threw a rock through a window there and there was a shirt with some kind of flammable material on it, they lit it and threw it down, but it burnt out before it ignited the classrooms," Dees said.

This is the third arson aimed at a high school in Cumberland County in the past five years.

For Dees, this crime hits close to home. He taught and coached at South View for 32 years.

"I guess it's a trend, you know people get mad and try to get revenge and it's a shame the world has come to that," he said.

Classes are expected to resume Thursday.


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