Vandals splash liquid in Franklin schools office

The Franklin County Public Schools' central office apparently will be closed at least through Monday after someone splashed gasoline or some other volatile substance throughout much of the building Thursday night.

No arrests had been made in the case as of late Friday, and an investigation was continuing. Major Fred Deaton of the Frankfort Police Department said there was no sign of forced entry into the two-story building.

School district spokesman Wayne Dominick said a professional cleanup crew was on the scene and would work through the weekend to clean and air out the building. Workers were wearing masks for protection against fumes, he said.

"The air in the building was so bad today that you couldn't stay inside more than a few minutes at a time," Dominick said. "The office will be closed Monday, but they are hoping to get us back in on Tuesday."

According to Dominick, the vandal or vandals poured a volatile liquid on desks, chairs, computers, carpeting, papers and files, but smashed no equipment and apparently took nothing.

"They spread gasoline — we're pretty sure it was gasoline — through probably two-thirds of the building," he said. Any spark, deliberate or accidental, could have caused a serious fire, Dominick said.

School officials think the vandalism occurred between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday. An employee who returned to the building a little later to pick up some files noticed a strong gas odor and called for help.

"It appears as though somebody had access," Dominick said, noting the lack of forced entry.

About 50 people work at the central office, located on East Main Street in Frankfort.

Dominick said some damaged computers might have to be replaced, along with some testing materials. The main damage was to office furniture and carpeting, he said. Personnel files were not touched.

Central office employees were allowed into the building Friday to retrieve files and materials, and will work out of an elementary school until the central office is ready for use again, Dominick said.

He said the situation would not hinder school operations.