Vandals set a fire at Loftis Middle School early Monday morning causing the school to be closed Monday and Tuesday, but should reopen Wednesday.
At 2:30 a.m., 911 received an automatic fire alarm at the school. Dallas Bay VFD arrived on the scene within minutes reporting no visible signs of fire.
Firefighters gained access inside the building to turn off the fire alarm when they noticed signs of vandalism inside the main office area. At that time, they also heard noises of doors rattling in the building and reported possible suspects inside the building. Firefighters immediately exited the building for safety reasons.
Moments later, visible signs of fire began showing at the right corner of the building. The automatic sprinkler system activated and firefighters extinguished the fire immediately and contained the fire to the teachers lounge. A couch was set on fire in the lounge. There was water damage to some areas of the school.
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team was activated to respond to the scene and were assisted by the Red Bank Police Department SWAT team. Due to the possibility of suspects still inside the building, the SWAT team did an extensive search beginning on the roof and then into the body of the school itself.
The building search by the SWAT team was concluded at approximately 9:45 a.m. with no one located inside the building. The building was turned back over to school authorities. Officers observed a large amount of vandalism involving broken windows, destroyed classrooms, blinds torn off windows and the main office ransacked and destroyed. The sprinkler system impacted between 10-12 classrooms that caused water damage.
Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office criminal investigations will now conduct an investigation into the incident. Investigators were at the school until 6:30 p.m. Monday until turning the property back over to the school system.
Agencies who assisted were Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services, Soddy Daisy Volunteer Fire Department, Red Bank Police Department SWAT and Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department.
McConnell Elementary will have school today.