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Vandals cause Jefferson flooding

May 31, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

HARPERS FERRY, W.VA. - Four classrooms at Jefferson High School's ninth-grade complex were flooded Friday morning after a fire sprinkler was vandalized, prompting early dismissal of classes at the Shenandoah Junction school, officials said.

The destructive prank is the third substantial act of vandalism since March 30 on Jefferson and Berkeley county school district property.

At least two computers in one of the classrooms were damaged by the water, as were ceiling tiles, according to Independent Fire Co. Chief Ed Smith.

School officials will have to replace the sprinkler head and pay to have the fire suppression system recharged.

"I think the floors will be OK," Smith said.

He estimated water poured from the sprinkler at a rate of 40 gallons per minute, and about 200 gallons of water was vacuumed from the floors.

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Firefighters from Ranson and Shepherdstown, W.Va., who arrived at the school were dispatched for a fire alarm call just after 10 a.m., officials said.

Jefferson County Schools spokesperson Gail Woods said she believed the affected classrooms were on the second and third floors of the building. She did not know if school officials had identified who carried out the prank.

The vandalism comes a month after Hedgesville High School students flattened 110 tires on 85 school buses and punctured tires on two other vehicles at the Berkeley County Department of Transportation's headquarters and maintenance garage April 30.

Four Hedgesville High students face charges, and one will be prosecuted as an adult, officials have said.

On March 30, authorities said 15 students at Jefferson High School's complex for 10th- to 12th-graders broke into the school and dragged hundreds of desks into hallways, hid more than two dozen telephones and wrote inappropriate comments in Spanish on a chalkboard.

The students involved were charged, six as adults.

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