VASSALBORO — No one was hurt Monday in a fire that investigators say was intentionally set in a girls’ bathroom at Vassalboro Community School.

The fire forced the evacuation of about 500 students from the Webber Pond Road school, which serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

After evacuating, the students boarded buses to keep warm and were able to return to the building after about a half-hour, according to Eric Haley, superintendent of Alternative Organizational Structure 92, the school district for Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow.

Students stayed at the school until the normal dismissal time, but classes did not resume Monday afternoon, Haley said. School was expected to be in session as scheduled today.

Damage was confined to the second-floor bathroom, Haley said.

“We got a lot of smoke damage, but not a lot of fire damage,” he said.


Sgt. Kenneth Grimes, an investigator with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, said the fire was intentionally set. He said investigators were to gather evidence Monday night and plan to return early today to interview students and staff.

“We don’t have a suspect at this point,” Grimes said.

Firefighters received the call after a teacher discovered the blaze shortly before 1 p.m.

“They started a roll of toilet paper on fire,” said Vassalboro Fire Chief Eric Rowe. The fire quickly spread to the plastic holder.

Firefighters responded from Vassalboro, Winslow, China and Chelsea, and the fire was still burning in the bathroom when they got there. The fire was quickly extinguished, Rowe said.

Haley said the evacuation went smoothly.


“It was an unbelievable job by the staff,” Haley said. “Within minutes they had every single student not only out of the building, but accounted for.”

Grimes said his department investigates a couple of suspicious school fires each year and in most cases the fire-setter is identified, he said.

“We have a technique in schools to examine information,” Grimes said. “We don’t necessarily go from student to student.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Staff Writer Betty Adams contributed to this report.

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