Bartow High School student charged with arson after setting soap dispenser on fire

Polk County

Bartow Police Department

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A high school student in Bartow is facing several charges after police say the student started a fire in one of the school’s bathrooms.

Police say the administrative staff and school resource officers (SROs) at Bartow High School were notified around 9:15 a.m. Friday of smoke in one of the educational buildings on campus.

Once officers arrived, the police department said they found that a soap dispenser in the male restroom was lit on fire. All students in the area were evacuated and the fire was put out.

Police say minimal damage was caused to the restroom.

Upon their investigation, police say the SROs were able to identify the suspect as a 16-year-old student. The student was later taken into custody by detectives.

According to the police department, the incident does not appear to be a result of the TikTok challenge called “devious lick.”

“The student made an extremely poor choice today that could have resulted in serious injuries to students and staff,” said Bartow Police Interim Chief Bryan Dorman. “Fortunately, fire prevention measures worked as they should have and school staff responded accordingly. I’m thankful that one of our SROs, who suffered smoke inhalation, will make a full recovery.”

Police say the SRO that suffered from smoke inhalation was treated and released from Bartow Regional Medical Center for minor complications.

The student was charged with arson of an occupied structure, arson resulting in an injury, and disruption of the educational process. The high schooler was later released to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

Detectives are working closely with the State of Florida Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosive Investigations and Polk County Public Schools in this joint investigation.

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