– I am sitting in first hour, Spanish, putting a worksheet into my folder. –
The day was normal. I had been at school since 7:50, and my day started at 8:00 sharp. Spanish had been in progress for approximately half an hour when the intercom system beeped. My teacher stopped in the middle of her sentence and everyone’s attention turned over to what what about to be said over the loudspeaker. A woman’s voice came through: “This is a message for all staff and students. Please evacuate the building. All students and staff evacuate the building immediately.” The message clicked off, leaving a classroom of very startled students in its wake. My teacher’s eyes went wide, and she instantly started shooing us out of the classroom. “Well, go!” she said, moving towards her desk and slinging her purse over her shoulder. I looked towards a girl I had recently started talking to this year, and we both mumbled something along the lines of “What is going on?”
We exited the classroom and merged with the horde of students pouring out of neighboring classrooms. As we approached the door to get outside, there was an older lady telling us all to start moving faster. A few kids started to run and, ironically, the lady instantly told them to stop running.
On the way out, I found two of my closer friends walking out a bit ahead of me. They were both dressed up in celebration of a play that was going to happen that night. I caught up to them and asked them if they knew what was going on. One said, “Fire in D-wing,” and the other said “It was in the science area.” I was immediately relieved. A fire in the science area was common. In a public school, or any school for that matter, a fire in the science area did not seem unusual in my eyes. The fire was probably the product of a stupid decision and was going to be forgotten in a matter of days. I wasn’t as worried about the evacuation at this point.
The day was cold, but being from a colder area of the country, none of us were too phased by being outside in chilly weather. Everyone was walking towards the parking lot, and staff members were instructing us to keep going out further. We ended up gathering along the farthest edge of the parking lot away from the school. Soon after getting outside, a fire truck and an ambulance pulled up in front of the school, but I was too far back in the crowd to see where they went in terms of entering our school.
I checked my phone to see if any of my other friends were nearby. After finding a group of people I knew, I started to hear other information about what happened.
The fire was in the boy’s bathroom.
It was huge!
Some idiots with a lighter, probably.
I did not have a hard time believing this was true. After being at this school for a little over 2 ½ months, I knew that people here were perfectly capable of doing something like this. In fact, they probably thought that setting the bathroom on fire was funny. I asked around for a bit, and finally found a girl who I knew added tons of people from our school on the app Snapchat. (For any of you reading who are not aware of Snapchat, it’s essentially an app fueled by taking pictures and sending them to others or posting them on your “story” for everyone on your Snapchat contact list to see.) I asked her if she’d seen anything and she nonchalantly told me she’d already seen a few pictures and videos of the fire. She showed me one in which the science hallway was filled with smoke, but confirmed that the fire was indeed set in a boy’s bathroom. I also got to see the end of a grainy video of the actual flames, which were bigger than I expected.
The whole student body waited outside for a good half hour/forty-five minutes before we were finally let back into the school. I was relieved to find out that the evacuation had taken so long that second period was already halfway done; I was supposed to have taken a math test that day. After second period ended, I made my way down to science. I passed the bathroom where the fire had been set and there was a big piece of yellow tape stretched across the closed door. FIRE LINE. DO NOT CROSS. The hallway reeked of smoke.
Later that day, the bell for lunch rang. I am in the second lunch at my school, so as I walk into the lunchroom, there is people from the first lunch filtering out of the cafeteria too. As I waited for a friend to get his lunch, I began to notice that there were more staff in the cafeteria than there usually is, and that people from the first lunch were still lingering around. My friend had gotten his lunch and we sat down with a few girls that he knew. The girls were chatting excitedly about the fire, but I realized they were talking about a different fire. “Wait, was there another fire?” I asked, confused. The girls looked at me like I had missed something very important. “Yeah,” one of them said, “There was just another one in the bathroom right over there. It happened during A lunch.” The school’s cafeteria has a girls’ and a boys’ bathroom in it, and apparently someone had set another fire in the boys bathroom that wasn’t more than twenty feet from where I was sitting. I became very aware of the faint smell of smoke for the second time that day. The girls were able to show me some videos of both of the fires, and explained that, for some reason, the culprit was lighting the soap dispensers on fire first. After a while, talk of the fire died down, and the day ended with nothing more than an email being sent out to parents that night.
Today at school, almost no one spoke of the fire, and that bothered me. Someone deliberately set two fires in one day, and no one seems to care about the fact that if something had gotten out of hand, we could have been killed. There is an arsonist walking among us, and no one seems to be making any strides to find them. No one seems surprised that someone had the urge to burn our school. I feel that this is an issue that should not be taken so lightly.
Have a day.