Nov. 15: This story has been updated to reflect that two school employees and a police school resource officer were treated for smoke inhalation.
Police are investigating a fire that started in a Montclair High School bathroom Friday, Nov. 12, and district officials warn any students who may have been involved will face discipline.
Montclair school Superintendent Jonathan Ponds wrote in an email sent to district families and personnel Friday that some staff members received medical attention.
Police said the school resource officer and two school employees were transported to Mountainside Hospital by Montclair Emergency Services for smoke inhalation and then released.
The fire was started at 2:10 p.m. in a boys’ restroom located on the second floor in the main building of the high school, Ponds wrote.
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According to police, a student alerted school staff of the fire. Principal Jeffrey A. Freeman and the school resource officer extinguished the fire, which was confined to the bathroom located near the science wing.
Students and staff evacuated the school safely, police said.
“Administrators and security immediately stepped in to contain the situation. Our students and staff knew exactly how to respond by following our emergency fire evacuation procedures and fire and police departments as well as ambulance units quickly responded to the scene,” Ponds wrote.
A preliminary investigation suggests that the fire began near a soap dispenser, police said. Minimal damage was confined to the area of the bathroom.
Officials have not revealed how the fire may have begun, only saying that it is still under investigation.
Ponds, in his email, noted that any students who may have been involved “will face disciplinary actions as per the Montclair High School Code of Conduct and Montclair Board of Education policies.”
Montclair Fire Chief Robert Duncan referred inquiries to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas S. Fennelly said his department was notified of the incident, but that Montclair’s police and fire departments were investigating.
Ponds said in his note no further details could be shared.
“We are grateful for student cooperation and the quick and orderly response by our staff and Montclair fire, police and ambulance personnel,” Ponds wrote.
The incident remains under investigation by the Montclair Police Department and Montclair Fire Department. Anyone with information can contact Detective Shawn DePoe at 973-509-4732.
— Jaimie Julia Winters