Anaheim : Arson Blamed in Fire at High School in Anaheim

Police and fire officials said arson was the cause of a fire that destroyed a wall of the fine arts building at Esperanza High School early Monday, causing about $250,000 in damage.

Police are seeking a young man seen inside the fenced area of the school about 11 p.m. Sunday, according to Anaheim Police Detective W. W. Lane. The fire was started in a locked quad area next to the ceramics classroom where bales of hay and art supplies were stored, Lane said.

Anaheim firefighters responded to a call at 2:46 a.m. and the fire was put out 45 minutes later at the school at 1830 N. Kellogg Drive, according to Deputy Fire Marshal Gail McCloud. The fire had melted the glass along a 40-foot wall and was burning through the roof of the building when firefighters arrived, McCloud said.

Nine units and approximately 30 firefighters from the Anaheim and Orange fire departments fought the blaze, which could be seen from four miles away, McCloud said. Damage was estimated at $200,000 for the structure and $50,OOO for the contents.

"It is definitely a set fire, " said Anaheim Fire Investigator Mike Feeney. "There is no accidental source of ignition." There were no traces of gasoline or other inflammable materials, he said.

Art supplies as well as six bales of hay and posters that were to be used as decorations for an upcoming school dance were propped against a wall under the building's overhang, Lane said. "Whoever lit it had to know it was going to hit the building."

Four of the building's 14 rooms were closed because of damage, Vice Principal Dick Owens said. The ceramics classroom and another art classroom sustained structural damage and the practice rooms for the school's band and chorus had smoke and water damage, Owens said.

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