Update: This story has been updated to specify that the ages of the children were 12 and 13.
ATWOOD, Kan. (KSNW) — The Kansas Fire Marshal’s Office says two teenagers have been taken into custody after the fire at Rawlins County Junior and Senior High School on Monday. It comes as the Rawlins School District considers what can be done about the damaged building.
The Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Atwood Police Department, and the Rawlins County Sheriff’s Office worked together on the investigation. They determined that the fire was started by arson.
On Tuesday night, authorities arrested two juveniles, ages 12 and 13. Charges relating to the fire will be referred to the Rawlins County attorney.
So far, there is no update on the extent of the damage. The current school was built in 1925 and is 58,000 square feet.
The district is working with insurance to determine the next steps. USD 105 plans to hold a special Board of Education meeting about the fire and the damage. It is scheduled for 5:30 Thursday, June 8, in the elementary school cafeteria. The public is invited to attend.
Eric Stoddard, USD 105 superintendent, said the goal is to start the 2023-2024 school year on schedule, with classes beginning Aug. 22. But it is unknown if classes will be in the school or the district will have to find a different building.
Stoddard posted a message on the district’s Facebook page after the fire:
Dear USD 105 Community,
As you know, the Junior-Senior High School sustained a fire this morning. Smoke was discovered when opening for the summer weight program. Atwood, local, and area fire departments responded to the fire. It appears the building has sustained significant damage, but the extent is unknown. It is still an active scene, please stay away for now.
Thank you for our community’s support, especially all of the fire crews and emergency personnel.
#weloveourbuffs!!”Eric Stoddard, USD 105 superintendent