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Waxahachie High’s summer fires called arson

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JIM WILLIAMS
Ellis County Press
WAXAHACHIE - The high school here was the scene of an original crime and a 'copycat,' said David Hudgins, chief of the Waxahachie Fire Department.

Hudgins said fires at the school July 14 and 17 were both 'definitely' results of arson.

He said investigators felt the same person did not set both blazes.

Hudgins said last week there were several possible suspects.

'We're still working on the case,' he said. 'Anytime you have an arson case it's real hard [to pinpoint a suspect] if you don't see someone do it.'

Hudgins said there was 'a definite pour pattern' of flammable liquid detected inside a room at the first and larger of the two fires occurring Friday, July 14 inside the vocational building.

He said flammable liquid was not discovered at the second and smaller blaze Monday, July 17 inside the science department, but a rag found stuffed into a bookcase in a chemistry laboratory appeared to be an ignition point for arson.

'It was back in an area that wasn't visible,' Hudgins said.

He said the area had several accesses.

'It had to be someone who knew what they were doing,' Hudgins said. 'It was someone who had to know their way around pretty good.

'I feel like the second fire was a copycat.'

He said 'copycat' fires have been known to soon follow fires because of the excitement of the fire trucks, people and everything.

The fire chief was asked about motive.

'I really can't release anything on that,' he said.

The call from the larger fire July 14, which brought television media here from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, was received by the Waxahachie Fire Department about 9 a.m., Hudgins said during an interview the same day as the blaze.

He said an air conditioning unit on top of the roof fell inside the building, causing walls to lean inward.

Firefighters then used extended ladders and master water hoses.

With the weather temperature above 100 degrees, six firefighters were treated for heat and dehydration at the scene.

Hudgins said temperatures from the fire were in excess of 800 degrees.

No one was injured.

Along with Waxahachie, among other fire departments responding included Ferris, Red Oak, Ovilla, Lancaster, Ennis, Midlothian, Italy and DeSoto.

The 'copycat' fire on July 17 began at approximately 10 a.m., according to Candace Ahlfinger, director of public relations for the Waxahachie Independent School District.

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