A week after an arsonist allegedly set fire to Dike Newell Elementary School, Regional School District 1 administrators are still surveying the damage to determine what repairs should be made. Meanwhile, community members have asked to contribute.
“Without a place to put the items or an exact list of what is needed, as we were unable to enter the building to take concrete inventory, it is difficult to accept donations now or to determine what our wishlist needs, etc. . wrote RSU1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel in a letter to families in the district.
The fire started around 10:30 p.m. on June 10 when Allan Thomas Vigil allegedly burst into the school and used a lighter to ignite paper in the school’s art supply cupboard. Following his arraignment at West Bath District Court on June 13, Vigil was taken to Two Bridges Prison in Wiscasset where he will await his next court appearance on August 24.
It wasn’t Vigil’s first offense, according to the Maine Department of Corrections, Vigil was convicted of three counts of arson in 2014. After his 12-year sentence was suspended, Vigil was sentenced to four years probation and undergo psychological counseling.
The state fire marshal’s office reported extensive damage to the school.
“We have worked diligently with our insurance company and are awaiting more information from them on coverage for what was lost,” Manuel said.
Shelly Daniels, a parent at Dike-Newell School, said her son cried when he learned of the fire at his school, but said the community has come together significantly.
“I am extremely impressed with the way the school is handling everything and the outpouring of support from the community. That’s why we love our city so much. They take a terrible tragedy and show what it means for a community to come together to persevere,” she said.
“We are very grateful for all offers of help and service, and will contact you soon once we have a better idea of specific needs and storage locations,” said Manuel. “In the meantime, please know that the entire Dike-Newell School community can feel the support and we look forward to utilizing everyone’s help very soon in the future when we have more information.”
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