Willard Middle School on Alert After Trash Can Fires

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday October 30, 2008 - 09:36:00 AM

Willard Middle School is interviewing some students who fire department officials said might have been involved in setting three small fires in a couple of trash cans in the school’s restrooms and an open garbage area in the garden during school hours last Wednesday. 

No one was injured in the fires, and school authorities started taking precautions immediately after the incident by sending students to the restroom in groups. There was no damage to school property, district spokesperson Mark Coplan said. 

Calls to Willard Middle School Principal Robert Ithurburn were not returned.  

Dong said that Fire Department officials would meet with the school’s vice principal, Ms. Jackson, on Friday to get an update about the situation. 

“Once we make the determination about which students were involved, we can send them to the Juvenile Fire Setters Program to better understand why they set the fires,” he said. 

“They can get counseling or intervention to help change their behavior.” 

Dong said that the station had received a fire alarm activation at 2:22. Coplan said that he had not come across trash can fires at middle schools in Berkeley during the last six years he had served as the district’s public information officer. 

“I have seen a couple at the high school though,” he said. In 2000, Berkeley High School reported a string of arson fires, at least one of which started in a trash can.