Bury St Edmunds: Bored teen sparked school blaze

A BORED teenager who sparked a blaze which could have destroyed a Suffolk school had a fascination with fire.

Around 1,410 students were evacuated from a college near Bury St Edmunds after a 15-year-old sprayed deodorant on a toilet roll and set fire to it last month.

It was only the quick-thinking actions of a teacher who fought the flames single-handedly which saved the school from being gutted by the blaze, Bury St Edmunds Youth Court heard yesterday.

Andrea Reynolds, prosecuting, told the court the teen had gone into the toilet block at around 3.40pm on January 17 and covered the toilet roll in deodorant before setting it alight with a cigarette lighter.

The boy, who admitted arson at a previous hearing, stood watching the fire, which caused �9,979 of damage, the court heard.

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“He gave no other reason than that he was bored,” Miss Reynolds said. “He admitted being fascinated by fire.”

A teacher was evacuating students from the building when he was told the fire was coming from the toilet block which was filled with thick, black smoke, Miss Reynolds said.

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Grabbing a fire extinguisher, the teacher, a former retained firefighter, went into the toilet block where he could see flames licking the ceiling then sprayed foam under the cubicle door.

“If it weren’t for the actions of the teacher, it was said the fire could have spread and destroyed the whole college,” Miss Reynolds said.

“The fire service reported that if the fire had been able to go on any longer, the likely outcome would be it would have quickly spread to the entire building.”

Claire Lockwood, in mitigation, said the teenager had not thought about the consequences of his actions.

“He does accept that this was a serious offence,” she said. “It is quite clear from the report this is a coping mechanism at times of stress in his life.

“He has not set out to harm anybody and, in some ways, it is a cry for help.”

Speaking to magistrates, the boy said he was sorry for his actions.

Sylvia Roberts, presiding magistrate, handed the boy a 12-month referral order and made no order for costs or compensation.

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