Joliet, IL Junior High School Fire, Dec 1967

Junior High Fire Blamed On 3 Boys

JOLIET, Ill. (AP)—Three teen-age boys were arrested Sunday night as a result of a $1.5 million fire that destroyed Washington Junior High School earlier that day.

The arrest followed an intensive investigation by state and local police and fire officials. Police Chief Paul Burke announced the two 15 year olds and their 13 year old companion were charged as a result of the fire.

The chief refused to identify the youths but said other charges were pending a juvenile court hearing Monday.

The search for arsonists began after fire officials discovered the blaze was ignited in the school’s auditorium, a basement closet, and the principal’s office.

Fire Chief Harold Rassmusen said his men discovered a cafeteria window raised and a pane broken near the sash lock after the fire destroyed the main building of the 47 year old school which 775 pupils attended.

Rassmusen said there was no doubt the blaze was touched off by arsonists.

Five firemen were injured while fighting the early-morning fire. Two of them were hospitalized.

Robert Schwab, 43, an assistant chief, suffered a fractured foot and Richard Elberts, 53, was treated for severe burns on his face, neck and arms.

Rockford Register-Republic, Rockford, IL 4 Dec 1967