Fire brigade called to campus after suspected arson attempt

Image: Jay Dyer

A bar in Wentworth College was robbed of the money in its tills last Tuesday, after the fire alarm was set off within the building.

An unidentified individual, who is believed to have premeditated the incident, made off with the money and is currently being searched for by police.

Reports have emerged that combustible materials were brought by an individual into the public toilets near the Edge, Wentworth’s cafe, as a means of setting off the fire alarm to distract members of the public before a robbery of the café’s tills.

After the attempted arson did not succeed, the individual manually set off the fire alarm himself. This led to the desired outcome of students, staff and guests having to evacuate the entirety of the Wentworth Nucleus.

It is not provable whether the individual who set off the fire alarm is the same person who robbed the Edge’s tills, and the amount stolen remains unspecified.

However, a University official has confirmed that the arson attempt, if successful, could have led to the entire building being burnt down.

Chris Teeling, the University’s Health and Fire Safety Officer, reported after the incident that “above one of the toilets upstairs, above the ceiling tile, somebody has set fire to something, which would have burnt the building”.

Police were quick on the scene and consoled the bar’s staff while keeping the scene on lockdown. Students were evacuated from Wentworth for approximately 45 minutes before being allowed back in shortly past 2pm.

The search continues for the identity of the individual(s) responsible for the attempted arson and robbery.

YUSU President Millie Beach issued the following statement:

“Student safety is really important to everyone at YUSU – our campus is a great space for students and is generally safe, much like our city.

“If any student feels that they have been negatively affected by this, they’re welcome to contact our advice and support centre. YUSU will continue to work with the University to ensure that our campus is safe and welcoming for staff, students and the wider York community.”

A University spokesperson stated the following:

“Wentworth College was evacuated earlier this month after the fire alarms were activated. No-one was injured and staff and students were allowed back into the building a short time later after the building was declared safe. We can also confirm a theft from a till was reported at Wentworth College the same afternoon. We would urge anyone who has any information to contact the authorities.”

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