From the Manchester College Archives

News Release

Arsonist strikes Schwalm Hall

Students evacuated safely during

1 a.m. fire return to their rooms

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 afterward.

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).




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