2nd Grader Started Fire In Bethel School Bathroom

Lower Kuskokwim school officials say it was a 2nd grade student with a lighter that caused the fire in a detached building’s bathroom.

The school will be disciplining the 2nd grade student according to the district’s policies.

“Typically that would be a suspension and the days would be the determining factor, it could go up to an include expulsion, but that would really depend on the age of the student and the conditions surrounding the event,” Jacob Jensen, the Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent, said.

No flames left the bathroom, according to the fire department, but the classroom suffered serious damage.

“There was quite extensive damage to the building, so we’re investigating what repairs might be necessary to bring it up to code, or if that building is even worth repairing or not,” Jensen said.

Jensen says that the teacher, Jill Hoffman, did an exemplary job of evacuating students and keeping everyone safe and calm. He says the response was textbook and the fire department put out the fire before it could spread beyond the bathroom. Jensen says incidents like this are something that the district is working to prevent.

“Obviously we’re not going to frisk every student that comes in the door. We’ve go to take into account that kids do things and don’t think about them. We’re going to be looking at protocols and policies and procures to see if there is something we can do in the future to prevent something like this,” Jensen said. “But a lot of it has to do with awareness and talking to the kids and having the fire department is in there talking abut fire safety. And that we’re taking those lessons and making kids understand that fire is dangerous.”

The 2nd grade class is a bit in limbo at the moment, as students are spread amongst other classrooms while the school works to find a permanent solution.