UPDATE: A Los Gatos teen who was hanging out with friends at an elementary school Sunday night has admitted to accidentally starting a two-alarm fire that damaged school buildings, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.
The 17-year-old boy has told investigators he went to Loma Prieta Elementary School at 23800 Summit Road in Los Gatos Sunday evening to smoke marijuana, sheriff’s office officials said.
When the teens arrived, none of them had any drugs on them, but they decided to say and light a cardboard box on fire to keep warm. The teen said he had disposed of the ashes in a trash can and thought he had sufficiently extinguished them before leaving the school.
But firefighters were called to the school at 11:10 p.m. Sunday, and arrived to find heavy smoke and flames coming from a building split between a gym and a community center, Cal Fire Assistant Chief Robert Sherman said.
The blaze was inside the roughly 6,000-square-foot community center, he said.
The gym was not involved in the fire but sustained interior smoke and fire damage, according to Sherman.
About 45 firefighters responded to the blaze, which was contained at about 5:40 a.m., Sherman said.
No injuries were reported.
The fire was deemed suspicious because it started outside of the building in an area without any electrical equipment, he said.
The school district’s Loma Prieta Elementary School and C.T. English Middle School are located near the center and were closed for because of the debris and air quality from the fire, said Eileen Bevans-Franks, administrative assistant to the district’s superintendent.
About 500 students attend the two schools, Bevans-Franks said. It was unclear this evening whether the schools would reopen on Tuesday.
The district managed the community center, which was used for district music and art classes and community recreational programs, she said.
Musical instruments, art materials, computers and electronics were a few of the items kept in the community center, she said.
A Santa Cruz County sheriff’s substation was also housed inside the community center and was damaged in the fire, sheriff’s Lt. Kelly Kent said.
No deputies were assigned to the substation, which was used as needed for personnel to write reports, meetings with witnesses and mainly to keep in touch with the community in the area, Kent said.
Damage caused by the fire is estimated at more than $1 million, sheriff’s officials said.
LOS GATOS (KRON) — Firefighters have extinguished a fire at Loma Prieta Elementary School in Santa Clara County early Monday morning, Cal Fire reported.
The fire was reported at about 12:45 a.m. at the campus located at 23800 Summit Road, Cal Fire posted on Twitter.
The fire started at a building next to the gym.
Crews from from Santa Clara County, Scotts Valley, and Felton Fire worked for over an hour to knock down the two-alarm blaze.
Cal Fire said that firefighters will remain on scene throughout the day. Classes have been cancelled as investigators work to determine the cause of the fire and the safety of the campus.
— CAL FIRE CZU (@CALFIRECZU) August 31, 2015