Teenage arsonist burns historic building - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Teenage arsonist burns historic building

May 15, 2003

Fitzgerald - A teenage arsonist ruins this historical southwest Georgia landmark. Fitzgerald City Consultant, Alvie Dorminy, says, "Just a very sad scene, a lot of memories for a lot people."

The old Fitzgerald High School is demolished by fire. The fire was set around 5:30 Wednesday evening. Eight hours later, the fire was finally under control and a teenager was arrested.

The arsonist caused $400,000 damage to the abandoned school and also took away many fond memories.  A Fitzgerald High School tenth grader was arrested eight hours later and charged with arson and trespassing.

A 1944 Graduate, Roy Jack Gibbs, says, "I wonder what people get out of something like that. Look at the money it costs the city, all these firemen and stuff."

Investigators say the boy set the old abandoned school on fire with a cigarette lighter. Other students watched him do it. Dorminy says, "That saddens me even more." Dorminy is a 1953 graduate. He says, "It is totally in ruins. Anything that will bring tears to your eyes, that will do it. "

Thursday morning, firefighters continue to wet down hot spots, inside are charred school chairs soaked by water. It would cost two million dollars to rebuild. Right now, plans are to tear the historical building down. Gibbs sighs and says, "I sure hate to see it go. It was a pretty building."

The old Fitzgerald High school was supposed to be renovated, but not enough money was raised. The school was built in the early 1900's.

The arrested student may also be punished at school. The school system will look at evidence and then schedule a tribunal hearing.

Photos courtesy: Marilyn Gibbons

posted at 5:35PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com

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