July 28, 2006 Suspected arson at Ashland High School 9 fires found around school property; damage estimated at $3,000 By Robert Plain Ashland Daily Tidings Ashland police and fire departments are investigating a series of arson fire

Suspected arson at Ashland High School

9 fires found around school property; damage estimated at $3,000



Ashland police and fire departments are investigating a series of arson fires targeting Ashland High School early this morning.

“It was definitely arson,” Ashland Fire and Rescue Fire Inspector Shawn Branaugh said.

Nine small fires were found around the gymnasium and cafeteria of the school on South Mountain Street at approximately 3:30 a.m. Police were notified of the fires after a car driving by reported them. Fire officials estimated the damage cost at $3,000.

Seven fires occurred in 55-gallon trash cans around the school gymnasium. Two more occurred on exterior canvas canopies hanging over door entrances into the school building.

The fires had extinguished themselves by the time Ashland Fire and Rescue had arrived on the scene but they applied water to the garbage cans as a precautionary measure.

Police and fire officials said they are investigating the fires as arson.

There was one witness on the scene when Ashland police arrived early this morning. He told police he did not get closer than 15-feet to the small blazes but a wallet with his identification card in it was found two feet from one of the fires, according to police records.

The man, an 18-year-old Ashland resident who said he was staying at a friend’s house on Alida Street, told fire officials he saw smoke from Alida Street, two streets away, and came to the school to see what had happened. Branaugh visited the Alida Street house this morning and determined it was unlikely that the fire could have been detected from that location.

“I don’t believe he could have seen the smoke or the glow of the fire from where he was staying,” he said. “I walked the entire porch. From that area, I couldn’t even see the school area. Maybe a little bit of the roof.”

Police are continuing to investigate the matter, said Sgt. Teresa Selby this morning.

Staff writer Robert Plain can be reached at 482-3456 x. 226 or bplain@dailytidings.com.

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