14-year-old charged with school arson

A 14-year-old male student at the Williamsport Area Middle School on West Fourth Street has been arrested on arson-related charges after setting a fire in a boys bathroom stall about 8:40 a.m. Thursday, city police said.

The teen has been removed from the school and petitioned into juvenile court on charges of arson, institutional vandalism and related offenses, police said. He was handed over to county juvenile probation officers.

The fire, which caused considerable smoke in the bathroom, was extinguished by a school staff member who used a portable extinguisher, according to investigators. That staffer, along with another school employee, neither of whom were identified, were treated at the scene for minor smoke inhalation, fire officials said.

The school, along with the connected District Service Center, quickly were evacuated after a staffer, alerted to the fire, pulled a fire alarm. Students temporarily were relocated to the nearby Jackson Primary School, Greg Hayes, the school district’s director of public relations, said.

Although the fire was extinguished, city firefighters had to use exhaust fans to clear the area of smoke.

Students were allowed back in the building by 9:45 a.m., Hayes said. “The school operated on a modified schedule for the remainder of the day.”