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Arson Again Suspected at Crescenta Valley High School

July 10, 1986|ROY H. CAMPBELL | Times Staff Writer

The second major fire in two months at Crescenta Valley High School in La Crescenta occurred over the holiday weekend, causing an estimated $70,000 in damage. The campus has been the scene of a series of fires recently, and arson is suspected.

"We think they are related," said Capt. Clarence Treat of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The latest fire started about 5 a.m. Friday in the building housing the science facilities and destroyed the biology lab, fire officials said. The blaze was brought under control in 30 minutes. Fire investigators immediately began sorting through the rubble.

"No chemicals were involved, but we feel it was arson," said Capt. John Roberson, also of the county Fire Department.

The fire forced school officials to move a summer-school class from the biology lab to the nearby chemistry lab, which suffered only moderate smoke and water damage, school officials said.

"This is a senseless act, something which is expensive and causing a lot of damage. If someone is deliberately doing this, we'd sure like to get him," said Principal Samuel R. Nicholson.

There have been several fires on the school's 4400 Ramsdell Ave. campus since a May 5 blaze swept through a special-education classroom and left an estimated $20,000 in damage. Fire officials said someone kicked a hole in the wall and started the fire outside. The same night, a large trash bin also was set afire and an attempt was made to start a third blaze in a building next to the special-education classroom.

Trash Fires

On May 8, a small trash fire was discovered on the steps of one of the classroom buildings. Two days later, another trash bin was set on fire. Both fires caused minor damage.

Fire investigators say most of the fires were started with small piles of trash lit by matches. This leads them to suspect that the same arsonist is involved, Treat said.

Shortly after the May 8 fire, school officials posted a lookout on the roof of one of the buildings to monitor the campus overnight, Treat said.

"After that, the fires stopped," he said, adding that the sentry was discontinued after school ended for the summer.

In response to the most recent fire, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department will increase its patrol of the area around the school, a spokesman for the Crescenta Valley Station said Tuesday. Patrol cars will check the school grounds periodically throughout the night, the spokesman said.

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