Arsonist strikes Schwalm Hall
1 a.m. fire return to
NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. (Oct. 27, 2003) - Arson in a
basement recreation area of Schwalm Residence Hall at about 1 a.m.
Saturday, Oct. 25, caused extensive damage to the basement and smoke
damage to the other three stories. Nobody was seriously hurt, as an
efficient evacuation system swiftly brought all student residents
outside even before the North Manchester Fire Department arrived shortly
The Indiana Arson & Crime Association Inc. is
offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the
person or persons responsible, said Rick Constable of the Office of the
State Fire Marshal. In addition, Crime Stoppers is offering $1,000,
said North Manchester Police Chief David A. Young. Midwest Forensic
Services, with canine assistance, was on the scene Monday afternoon, and
the investigation continues.
About 150 to 160 students reside in the 42-year-old
Schwalm, but several had left campus for the weekend. The 130 evacuated
students spent the rest of Saturday night elsewhere on campus or with
friends. Two students received on-scene treatment for smoke inhalation
and a firefighter was treated for a back injury.
The fire immediately triggered the Schwalm, campus
security and North Manchester Fire Department alarms, enabling a swift,
complete evacuation and room check. The fire alarm system was rewired
Saturday, repairing what was destroyed by the fire.
Students were evacuated again Sunday to enable a
professional cleaning company to fog for smoke and to clean. Most
students have returned to their Schwalm rooms and cleaning is expected
to continue through the week. The building is insured.
Counseling and support is continually available for
students, and their parents have been notified. Campus security has
increased in the wake of the arson.
Now, the focus is on returning Schwalm residents to
their studies and their college schedules and activities.
"I offer the college's sincere appreciation to
everyone who responded appropriately and courageously to this
challenge," said Manchester College President Parker G. Marden in
acknowledging the behavior and understanding of Schwalm residents early
Saturday morning, and the response from campus Residential Life,
Security and Physical Plant and four area fire departments.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to
call the North Manchester Police Department (260-982-8555) or the
Indiana Arson Hot Line (800-382-4628).