Two school fires intentionally set

The two fires are said to be unrelated.

Two fires at Columbia elementary schools have been determined "incendiary," or intentionally set, according to Columbia Fire Department news releases.

"The two fires are not connected," Columbia Fire Battalion Chief Gary Warren said.

On Jan. 24, students and staff evacuated Derby Ridge Elementary. The fire is still under investigation, the news release stated.

Warren said a student started the fire.

"The investigation is ongoing. It is an ongoing process with school officials and juvenile officers," Warren said.

Warren said the fire began when paper towels ignited in a trash can.

No one was injured during the fire or the evacuation, the press release stated. Neither the restroom nor the trash can sustained any structural damages, stated the news release.

Derby Ridge administrators are working with the fire department during the investigation.

A classroom at Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School on Broadway caught fire on Dec. 30.

The fire occurred around 5:40 a.m. in Mobile Classroom D.

There was about $100,000 worth of damage to the building itself and its contents," Columbia Fire Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said.

"There was damage to books, desks, a data projector and Smart Board and extensive damage to the interior and exterior of the classroom," he said.

Because it is an open investigation, the fire department has not released the cause of the fire.

Investigators from the fire department are working with the Major Crimes Unit of the Columbia Police Department and Columbia Public School officials in the investigation of the fire, the news release stated.

"This is a co-investigation with the fire marshal," Columbia Police Sgt. Ken Hammond said. "The police are helping track down leads and will help question the suspects."

There are no suspects in the case, and investigators do not know why the fire was set.

There are no additional leads at this time, Sapp said. No one was injured in the fire.

Officials for the school could not be reached for comment.

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