- The Washington Times - Monday, November 14, 2005

A 10-year-old boy caused a fire in a boys’ bathroom at Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Northwest yesterday, authorities said.

The boy admitted to setting rolls of toilet paper on fire, authorities said. As a result, a small fire broke out and smoke spread throughout the school at 3101 13th St. NW.

School officials evacuated the building and delayed the start of classes for about an hour. No one was injured.

The boy has not been identified because he is a juvenile.

“He has been enrolled in the juvenile fire-setter’s program,” said Alan Etter, a spokesman for the D.C. fire department.

The program is designed to teach children about fire safety and the dangers of arson and fire.

Most of the 445 students were beginning to enter the school at about 8:40 a.m. when officials smelled smoke.

About the same time, a bus driver dropping off students saw the smoke and called the fire department, said Sharon Bovell, the school’s principal.

“We were able to turn the children around, their parents and staff. Everybody responded,” Mrs. Bovell said.

The school, including 87 teachers and administrative staff, quickly evacuated.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the small blaze in the restroom, which is near the rear of the school.

“It created a lot of smoke,” Mr. Etter said. “It went throughout the building.”

The building was aired out, and officials searched it to make sure that no other fires were burning. It reopened in about an hour.

Damage was contained to the restroom.

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