Vandals blamed in fire at Culkin Academy

Published 12:15 pm Monday, May 9, 2011

Vandalism is suspected in a fire at the old J.H. Culkin Academy this morning that damaged the former school’s office, said volunteer fire coordinator Kelly Worthy.

Damage was limited to the office, he said. No injuries were reported.

“It was a contents fire, not the building,” he said. “Mostly it was papers that were burned.”

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Vicksburg Warren School District Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Swinford said no official school records are stored there or in any location vulnerable to vandalism.

“I don’t know exactly what those papers were, but they were definitely not official records,” she said.

The fire was reported at 6:26 a.m. by one of the volunteer firemen who passed the school, Worthy said.

Firemen from the Culkin and Bovina volunteer fire departments responded and had the fire under control in about 15 minutes, he said.

“The biggest part of that was finding it,” said Worthy, who remained at the building until 7:45.

Evidence showed access to the building was through a window that once held an air conditioner.

Since closing as an active school in 1999, Culkin has been used for district storage. Swinford said such items as old tables and chairs are kept there, but no technology or expensive equipment.

The building, built in 1942, has been the target of petty vandalism in recent months, district officials have said.

“I appreciate the community members who called and let us know there was smoke coming out of the building,” said Swinford, who visited the school as firemen were completing the cleanup this morning to inspect the damage.