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Teens charged in North High locker fire

February 16, 1999

Two 14-year-old girls have been charged with setting a fire in a locker at North Hagerstown High School on Friday afternoon, Hagerstown Assistant Fire Marshal John Hersh said Monday.

Hersh said the teenagers used a cigarette lighter to ignite paper and debris in an unassigned locker at around 11:40 a.m. Friday.

The fire in the locker, which is 12 inches by 18 inches by 3 feet, was set while more than 1,200 students were in the building, he said.

The blaze activated smoke alarms and the building was evacuated.

Hagerstown City fire units went to the school. But faculty members had doused the blaze with a fire extinguisher, Hersh said.

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Hersh said the fire was a minor one and not a threat to the building.

One student was arrested Saturday morning and the other on Monday, he said. Hersh said the girls were interrogated by fire and police officials.

They were released to their parents, he said.

Fire officials focused on the girls after witnesses told authorities they had seen the two in the hallway just before alarms went off.

Hersh said several fires have taken place at the high school but that there is no indication of a growing trend.

"It's just kids being kids," he said.

This was the first such incident at North High this school year, he said.

He said one fire was reported there in 1997 and another in 1998. The most recent fire happened when a male teen burned his desk with a lighter, he said.

- Kimberly Yakowski

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