State fire officials are offering a reward for information about an intentional fire that caused extensive smoke and heat damage this week to a school that houses the Candler County Boys & Girls Club.
The state fire marshal is investigating the fire, ruled arson, that caused about $200,000 in smoke and heat damage Monday to the gym at the old Metter Intermediate/Middle School building on West Vertia Street in Metter, said Glenn Allen, a spokesman for state Insurance and Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.
Metter Fire and Rescue Capt. Joe Carter said the blaze was reported at 8:22 a.m. Monday, and firefighters responded within three minutes to extinguish the fire. While there was minimal structure damage, extensive heat and smoke throughout the building melted equipment and damaged the interior of the structure.
There were no injuries, but the school building adjacent to the gym was burglarized, he said.
Metter Police Chief Mike Seckinger said the burglary remains under investigation as well. He did not detail the "few items" that were stolen, but said investigators "have some good leads" on the case.
The fire didn't disrupt activities at the Candler County Boys & Girls Club, which uses the school property, said program director Lisa Rigdon.
"We're still able to run the program, using another wing," she said Wednesday. "(The fire) is still under investigation, so we haven't started cleaning up yet."
She said she hopes, when the investigation is over, that the community will help with repairs and cleanup. When the program, a unit of the Bulloch County Boys & Girls Club, was started in September, community volunteers helped prepare the facility for the program, she said. Fundraisers will also be held to provide money for cleanup and equipment replacement.
Most of the 125 club members "were very upset that someone would do this," Rigdon said.
Allen said a reward of "up to $10,000" is being offered by Hudgens' office for information leading to the arrest of persons responsible for the fire. Tips may be made to the state fire marshal's office hotline at (800) 282-5804.
Information regarding the burglary and fire may also be submitted to the Metter Police Department at (912) 685-5437.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.