LOWNDES COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Lowndes County public school leaders believe a fire at the school transportation shop was intentionally set.
According to school officials, the incident started around 2 a.m. Tuesday. Neighbors near the shop reported hearing some commotion and called the bus shop foreman and authorities. Two hours later, a motorist on Highway 97 South noticed flames and smoke coming from the shop.
School leaders say the suspect or suspects, who initially broke into the shop, returned to cover up the crime by setting the place on fire.
“Very upsetting. I mean it just can’t believe it happened and for no reason,” said Lowndes County Public School Transportation Director Harvey Means.
At first glance, the cinderblock building appears to have sustained minor damage but a closer inspection shows significant damage in the office area.
“My thought process on that is this building has a camera system and perhaps the person realized there was a camera system and just wanted to destroy evidence,” said Lowndes County Public School Superintendent Jason Burroughs.
School leaders hope the security cameras mounted on the building were able to capture the incident.
Although the damage is bad, it could have been much worse. School district officials say a single school bus was inside filled with diesel fuel, but an employee was able to drive it away to safety.
Other than the destroyed office, a school-owned Ford Taurus was taken. There were no reported injuries in the fire, according to officials.
The fire is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Burroughs says the school district will begin the spring semester on Jan. 4 virtually. The district has seven schools, and a student population of around 1,400.