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Mar 31, 2015

Fire Destroys Girls Dorm at Youth Hostel. Was It a Case of Arson?

Around three-thirty this afternoon, fire was seen coming from the girls’ dormitory at the Youth Hostel at mile twenty-one on the George Price Highway. The building and its contents were destroyed, but luckily the girls inside the building were rescued and escaped unhurt. The suspicion, however, is that the dorm was set on fire by girls who resided there. Several of them were taken into custody by Hattieville police officers. Director of the Community Rehabilitation Department, Starla Bradley, spoke with the media shortly after five when the fire was put out by firefighters.

 

Starla Bradley, Director, Community Rehabilitation Dept., Youth Hostel

“Yes, the fire has indeed destroyed the female dormitory and all the contents. It started in; it allegedly started in one of the dorms to the back. We are still trying to ascertain exactly what happened and we are working along with the police. It is the girl’s dormitory, so some of the girls were actually in the building at the time the fire started. So, we just managed to quickly get them out and tried to contain them. Right now, everybody is highly emotional. One of the challenges with working with this population is that they do have mental illness and so quite often there are challenges that come along with that. The fire department just informed us that the fire is now out so we won’t be able to go in and see it. But pretty much everything that was in the building was destroyed.”

 

Starla Bradley

Reporter

“The suspicion we are getting from unconfirmed sources is arson. Is that indeed the suspicion that you all have as well?”

 

Starla Bradley

“I have heard varying stories; that’s what I am saying. We have to ascertain what happened. All we know is that a mattress in the back was ablaze when the officers opened the dorm and from there they just tried to quickly get everybody out.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Are you able to talk with us about the value of the building and the contents?”

 

Starla Bradley

“Not at this time. I know the building was renovated about ten years ago but we were preparing to renovate in the next two months to start a complete renovation, as you know we have a new facility. So we wanted to upgrade this one as well because it really needed some renovation.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, the girls who stayed in that dormitory are they being relocated?”

 

Starla Bradley

“Right now since we have the children calm and contained, we will be having a quick debriefing with the staff to discuss the next steps. Of course, some of them will need to be separated and some of them are highly emotional. Some of them weren’t involved in the incident or weren’t on dorm but because of the situation they are very emotional. So now we have to discuss ways to contain them and separate them and make sure that they are calm and then the work will be to debrief with them because this is something scary.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Are any of the girls being questioned by police?”

 

Starla Bradley

“A few of them went along with the police, along with an officer and a female police officer for questioning; yes.”

 

Bradley said the renovation of the building is estimated at some three hundred thousand dollars.

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