Two juveniles arrested after second fire breaks out at historic Edna school
EDNA - Two juveniles were detained Monday morning in connection with a second fire that broke out at the George Washington Carver Elementary School in Edna.
The boys, both 14, will be referred to the juvenile court on a charge of arson, a second-degree felony, Edna Police Chief Clinton Wooldridge said.
The Edna Fire Department received the call at 10:12 a.m. Flames were in the school's gymnasium, but firefighters were able to put them out within 10 minutes.
No one was hurt, and the fire caused minimal damage to the building, said Cpt. Nick Strauss of the Edna Fire Department.
Witnesses, who saw the boys leaving the scene, detained them before police arrived. They have been taken to the Victoria Regional Juvenile Justice Center, said Wooldridge, who declined to say how the fire was set.
"They are not from the area. They were just exploring, I suppose," Wooldridge said. "Parents ought to be aware that those buildings are dangerous, and they should not allow their children to go play on that old campus."
Vandalism at that location has "absolutely" escalated over the years, he said.
"The owners don't call the police department about it anymore. There's just so much vandalism that it would be impossible to pinpoint what was new," he said of the graffiti and broken windows.
George Washington Carver School's east wing was destroyed in a fire late Thursday night.
Wooldridge said no one has been arrested in connection with that fire.
Earl Platt, 63, who was staying nearby, said that fire appeared suspicious, too.
A friend alerted him to the smoke then. About two minutes after walking up to the former school, he saw blue flames lick the ground and heard a loud "Whoosh," as the windows burst.
"There had to be some accelerant to cause that much pressure," Platt said. "In that amount of time, a fire does not grow like that."
Robert Foley, 65, who lives nearby, said kids always vandalize the place by throwing rocks and bricks at the windows. He said the building could have easily been converted into apartments for low-income people.
The school, at 1128 Martin Luther King Drive, was built in 1954 and served as the only black high school in Jackson County until desegregation in 1966.
It was used as an elementary school until the mid-1990s.
Edna Fire Marshal Buster Chase is investigating both fires.