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Officials Discuss Middle School Fire

ASHLAND, Ore. — Earlier this week a fire caused a delay at Ashland Middle School, and police are not releasing many details about the fire investigation, but police say the student has been identified and is cooperating with police.

Ashland Fire officials say they have a number of fire prevention programs for students in in kindergarten through fifth grade, however, they wish they had more resources to spend more time with the student’s programs. On Tuesday, Ashland Middle School was evacuated just after 11 a.m. due to a fire in the boy’s bathroom in the 6th grade wing.

Police officials released a few more details about the fire saying a student was lighting paper towels in the dispenser on fire with a lighter. The student tried to put the fire out with water but was unsuccessful. Ashland Fire officials say one of their programs with young students specifically focuses on the dangers of playing with fire.

“The Rogue Valley Fire Prevention Co-Op also has a “don’t play with matches” program that brings Smokey Bear into 1st grade classrooms. So there is a little bit of fire prevention that we do in our schools,” said Margueritte Hickman, with Ashland Fire.

Recent statistics from the Oregon State Fire Marshal show about 15 percent of juvenile set fires in 2009 happened in schools, with lighters being the most common source.

The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office Juvenile Department is handling the case, and will decide whether to bring any kind of charges, however, officials say details of the investigation won’t be in their hands until Monday.