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2 youths are suspects in fire

Firefighters battle the blaze at the Banks Street School gym Friday. Police suspect arson.
Firefighters battle the blaze at the Banks Street School gym Friday. Police suspect arson.

FORT MILL -- Two juveniles are expected to be charged with arson in a fire that caused an estimated $95,000 in damage to the Banks Street School gym Friday afternoon, according to Fort Mill police.

Glass in the back door to the gym was broken and the inside was vandalized, said Fort Mill police Capt. Bryan Zachary. Paint was thrown about the room and covered a plastic trophy that was set on fire with a lighter. The fire spread to nearby empty cardboard boxes, which contributed to the flames getting out of hand, Zachary said.

The juveniles, ages 13 and 11, fled the building and one is believed to have called 911 to report the fire about 1:30 p.m., Zachary said. The child took no responsibility for the fire during the call.

The two are expected to be charged with arson and third-degree burglary, both of which are felonies, Zachary said. The juveniles were released to the custody of their parents.

Three fire departments -- Fort Mill, Flint Hill and Riverview -- battled the blaze that took about 30 minutes to extinguish. Three firefighters were treated at the scene for heat-related injuries, Zachary said.

Thick, black smoke billowed out of the back of the gym while firefighters climbed onto the roof and cut holes to vent the smoke.

The gym is owned by Leroy Springs and Co. and is used by Fort Mill Academy, which is located at the Banks Street School, for physical education classes.

The heaviest smoke damage appeared to be in the back locker room, said Fort Mill Fire Department Public Information Officer Bob Condron.

Thursday morning, a school resource officer reported the broken window at the gym. The report also noted burned wood found on the back steps of the gym. It is unclear if the two are connected.

No school children were at the property because Friday was a teacher workday, Zachary said. He did not think anyone else had to be evacuated because the gym is not attached to other buildings at the site.

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