Marshal: JDHS fire not accident

Five small blazes also set in December in high school trash cans

Posted: Friday, April 16, 2004

A fire set Wednesday in a Juneau-Douglas High School boy's restroom is similar to blazes determined to be deliberately set on campus earlier this school year, Fire Marshal Rich Etheridge said.

Wednesday's fire was reported at 1:11 p.m. Police notified the reporting firefighters that the blaze was out, although smoke remained. Firefighters cleared the smoke with fans.

Etheridge said the fire was in a trash container.

"Some of the evidence around the area indicated they were playing with matches," he said.

The local fire and police departments are investigating the case, he added.

The school reported five small fires in December, all set in trash cans.

Etheridge said that unlike those fires, Wednesday's was set when school was in session with a class across the hall. It appears whoever is setting the fires "is becoming a little more brazen," he said.

A recent incident that could have been related occurred during spring break, when some fire extinguishers were emptied, he said.

"Recharging them gets expensive," he said. "Sometimes they can't be recharged."

Etheridge said the smoke tipped off school staff to the fire. A few weeks ago, a similar incident was reported at a Juneau apartment building, he added.

There hasn't been extensive damage from the recent fires, Etheridge said. There has been some scorching and damage to items such as paper-towel dispensers at the school. But that doesn't mean the incidents weren't serious.

With a fire, Etheridge said, "there's always the potential for it to get out of control."

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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