Splendora residents in shock after superintendent's house set on fire

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by Malini Basu / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on January 20, 2014 at 6:32 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 20 at 6:46 PM

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas – People in a small town are still shocked on Monday after a teenage girl was accused of setting fire to the home of the Splendora ISD superintendent.

According to the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office, the house fire on Oak Lawn Drive started just before 1 a.m. on Sunday and no one has been allowed back inside since.

Splendora ISD Superintendent Genese Bell and her family were asleep inside the home when the fire started. The sound of a smoke alarm alerted Bell, her husband and her daughter to the fire.

Bell was burned on her head and feet while she tried to rescue her 13-year-old daughter from her bedroom, which was heavily damaged.

The daughter suffered minor burns from the fire. Both were taken to the hospital to be treated.

Bell’s husband, David, who is an assistant principal at Shepherd Middle School, was not injured during the blaze.

When the New Caney Fire Department arrived at the scene, they found smoke throughout the home and quickly brought the fire under control.

The superintendent and her daughter are expected to be OK.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputies and Splendora police officers secured the scene and were soon joined by an investigator from the Fire Marshal’s Office.

The daughter told police she saw someone run out of the house, but she couldn’t give them a description of the person.

“She’s been with Splendora for just a few years. She’s new to the area. She moved from out of town,” Holly Miller, a kindergarten school teacher, said of the superintendent.

Miller works under Bell and was surprised to learn it was an arson fire set by a teenager.

“I don’t even know how at a young age, fathom doing anything like this,” Miller said.

“I don’t know why they would do that,” Kelcy Fontenot, a student, said.

Fontenot is friends with the Bell’s daughter.

“She plays eighth-grade basketball, and I see her in the locker room,” Fontenot said.

Investigators said someone doused the home with gasoline, then set it on fire.

“I see it on Facebook. It’s really sad, they’re all praying for her and the family,” Fontenot said.

Teachers are hoping the superintendent gets back on her feet soon.

“She’s really helping the teachers push hard for academic skills and what’s lacking,” Miller said.

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