Possible Arson at local Boys and Girls Club

From the Herald

By Holli Deal Saxon hbragg@statesboroherald.com

Editor’s note: This article has been revised to clarify some confusion that had been presented in the initial article posted earlier this afternoon over exactly what parts of the Boys and Girls Club of Bulloch County’s building were damaged.

State fire officials are investigating a Sunday morning fire at the Boys and Girls Club of Bulloch County.  Statesboro Fire Chief Tim Grams said the cause of the blaze, which damaged the building, is unknown.  Firefighters were called out just before 7 a.m. Sunday after a passerby spotted the smoke, he said.

bgc-fireThe Statesboro Police Department also responded to the scene and assigned extra patrols to keep watch over the building, according to a police  report. A detective took photographs and turned the case over to the police department’s Criminal Investigations Division. Bulloch County volunteer firefighters assisted in extinguishing the flames, which affected the teen center’s gymnasium area at the rear of the front office of the Denmark Street building, which houses the Boys and Girls Club as well as other public assistance offices. The club has a second gym area that was not affected, Grams said. The gymnasium area damaged in the blaze was used for a physical activity area set aside for older club members in middle and high school, said Mike Jones, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Bulloch County.

Jones said Monday afternoon that the fire appears to have started in the “mechanical” room, and affected the surrounding rooms by causing smoke and heat damage. About 50 middle and high school students will be displaced until the damage is repaired or another area is found that can be used.

“Fortunately, the fire started during a time when students and staff were not there,” he said, “The challenge will be to continue services” to the teenage members who used that area, he said.

Club officials are looking into solutions as the fire marshal continues investigation. A fire Jan. 12 caused significant damage to the Boys and Girls Club of Candler County, a branch of the Bulloch County club. That fire was ruled arson, and two juveniles, ages 10 and 11, were arrested about two weeks later, said Metter Police Chief Mack Seckinger. Grams would not comment on whether the two fires are connected, except to say he would rather wait for the state fire marshal’s office to complete the investigation before alluding to possible causes of the fire. Jones said he believes the fires are unrelated.

Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

Stacy George

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