NORTON — There has been another suspicious fire at Wheaton College, leading students and staff to be on edge as the number is now up to four fires that are believed to have been intentionally set since last week in the same dormitory.
The most recent blaze was reported at 11:30 p.m. Sunday in a trash barrel in a laundry room of McIntire Residence Hall, where there were two early Sunday morning fires in the second and third floor bathrooms, Norton fire officials said.
The first fire was reported about 3 a.m. last Wednesday in a waste basket in a second floor bathroom in that dorm, Fire Capt. Benton Keene said.
About 100 students living in the dorm were temporarily displaced during the investigation of the fires and have since been able to return.
No injuries were reported in the blazes, but there was some damage from the first blaze, which damaged a bathroom cabinet and set off sprinklers, causing some water damage, Keene said.
Up to a $5,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for the fires.
“It’s all still under investigation,” Keene said.
State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey, Norton Fire Chief Paul J. Schleicher, Wheaton College President Dennis M. Hanno, and Wheaton College Director of Public Safety Christopher Santiago have issued a joint statement asking for the school community’s help in solving the case.
Ostroskey said it was fortunate nobody has been hurt since the fires took place when students are usually sleeping.
Hanno said campus patrols have been increased and asked all students to be on the lookout and report any suspicious activity.
Anyone with information about the fires is asked to come forward confidentially, 24 hours a day, and call the Arson Hotline at 1-800-682-9229 or Wheaton College Campus Police at 508-286-8213.
The fires are being jointly investigated by the Norton Fire Department and state police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.