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Hartselle has leads in gym fire, no suspects

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — A Saturday fire may displace some Hartselle High students for at least two days, Principal Jerry Reeves said.

Meanwhile, Police Chief Ron Puckett said investigators have leads but no suspects in an apparent arson at the high school gym.

"We're going to follow every lead we receive," the chief said, noting that no arrest appears imminent.

About 11:20 p.m. on Saturday, Hartselle responded to a blaze in the Pettey Center, where students play home basketball and volleyball games.

It's also the building that houses most of the school's state championship trophies and the band program.

Reeves said the fire was contained to the ticket office and did not damage any of the school's trophies or sports memorabilia in the commons area.

"We've closed the gym and band room and hope to reopen them no later than Wednesday," Reeves said.

Reeves said an insurance adjuster visited the site Monday morning and crews were coming to clean up the damage.

Fire Chief Steve Shelton said investigators believe an ignition source was slipped under a door.

Residents in the area reported seeing a white Mustang with loud mufflers and a Chevrolet pickup with tinted windows near the school.

Another witness reported hearing loud bangs like someone hitting a steel door at the time of the blaze.

"We're treating this as a suspicious fire and will follow any lead we receive," Puckett said.

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