07/07/09 — Officials look into Wayne Country Day fire

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Officials look into Wayne Country Day fire

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on July 7, 2009 1:46 PM

Officials from the State Bureau of Investigations are looking into a suspicious weekend fire at Wayne Country Day School, but spokeswoman Jennifer Canada said officials have no other information to release at this time.

School headmaster Todd Anderson, however, said school officials believe the fire, which damaged about a third of the preschool building, was intentionally set.

"It's a real disappointment," he said. "Kind of a shock. It's something we didn't expect."

Goldsboro Fire Chief Gary Whaley said the fire appeared to have begun "sometime Saturday night or early Sunday before day."

But by the time it was discovered shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday by a teacher Anderson said had stopped by to pick up some materials, the blaze had burned itself out.

Whaley said about a third of the building was charred, with the rest of it suffering smoke damage.

The fire, he continued, appeared to have originated from a plastic storage container located next to the preschool building. He explained that it then burnt through the metal wall of the building and spread from there.

He added that the Goldsboro Police Department and the SBI were brought into the investigation because of the fire's suspicious nature. Goldsboro police officials could not be reached by press time.

The container, Anderson said, was used to store cleaning supplies.

"It was apparently a deliberately set fire," he said.

But he does not have any guess as to who might have done it or why.

"I cannot imagine who could have done something like this," he said. "It appears to be prankish -- the kind of thing a kid might do. But as to why somebody would do this, I don't know -- especially to the preschool building.

"Fortunately the fire extinguished itself before the building was completely destroyed."

The preschool building is not attached to the main school building and gymnasium.

Anderson estimated the damages about $150,000. The preschool building as a whole, he said, is worth about $500,000.

Fortunately, he continued, officials have some time before the school year begins.

"There are no summer programs in progress," he said. "If there's something to be fortunate about, it's that we have five weeks before school opens again, so we have some time. The preschool program will be fine. It's not even something I'm worrying about.

"We just have to decide whether we want to repair that part of the building or do something else."

Wayne Country Day will begin preschool classes on Aug. 17, with 54 children and 7 teachers expected.