Lincoln Northwest student says there was ‘chaos’ after suspected arson

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – On Tuesday morning, security officers at Lincoln Northwest High School noticed water coming from under the door of a boys’ bathroom.

They found that a paper towel dispenser had been set on fire, setting off the sprinkler system.

Lincoln Police are now investigating the incident as suspected arson but haven’t named any suspects.

Alexis Duff, a student at Northwest, said it affected the rest of the school day.

“We were all very stressed out from all the chaos that was happening and everything,” she said.

Duff said she thought the fire alarm was just a drill until they went back inside.

Students with class in the west wing of the second floor couldn’t return to their classrooms due to the smoke and water.

Lincoln Public Schools Director of Operations Scott Wieskamp said the security officers put out the fire quickly.

“Everything worked exactly like it was supposed to,” Wieskamp said. “Very minimal damage to the building. We probably had more damage due to the water from the fire suppression system than we did from the fire itself.”

Some students were moved to the gymnasium, where a fight broke out between five students.

Duff said there was tension because no one really knew what was going on and students were worried.

“I felt safe because I know I can stand up for myself, but I don’t think that was a very safe situation for people to be in,” she said.

Joseph Wright, director of security for LPS, said that administrators and students handled the situation as best they could and that they learned a lot.

“I was really proud of the kids and proud of the staff for the way they responded, just like they’d been trained,” Wright said.

Lincoln Police estimate the damage to be around $5,200.

New policies have been put in place at school to prevent another fire.

Teachers spoke with their students, and kids must now sign a paper before and after using the restroom.

School officials said that the incident was handled efficiently and that attendance was excellent the next day.

But Duff said she wished the aftermath had been dealt with differently.

“My frustration is more towards LPS because of what they’re saying on the situation and kind of disregarding it as a normal high school day, when it really was not, and just disregarding all of the students who went through that stressful situation,” Duff said.

Northwest is asking anyone with information about the situation to contact the Lincoln Police Department at 402-441-6000 or report it anonymously on its website with the green “Safe to Say” button.

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