Another arson at Berkeley High School doesn’t bode well for the coming school year, just two weeks away.
Superintendent Jack McLaughlin said that Saturday morning around 3:40 a.m. someone dumped a flammable fluid through a window screen at the Boys Gym on Milvia Street then tossed a road flare inside to ignite it.
Deputy Fire Chief Debra Pryor said that the fire occurred in the weight room, and that it scorched a wall, damaged a floor and burned athletic matting.
She estimated that the fire caused around $26,000 damage.
She said that the damage, mainly the matting, was valued at $1,000, while the property damage – the floors and walls – was valued at $25,000.
“The water and smoke damage was pretty significant,” she said.
The automatic sprinklers extinguished the fire before the Fire Department arrived, she said.
McLaughlin remained upbeat and said that the school’s doors will open as planned Aug. 30.
“It might set us back for a moment,” he said. “But we’re moving on and we’ll open up school and get going.”
“It’s tough, but we’re doing the best we can,” he said.
The school hasn’t recovered from the April 12 fire that did $2 million in damage to the Administration Building
That fire forced district officials to set up a colony of portables so students could finish out the year.
Sixteen of those portables will still be in use when school starts, McLaughlin said.
Construction for a new library, classrooms and student union will begin in November.
And construction will also begin in November to repair the fire damaged B Building. Until construction is complete, he said students will have to use the portables.
McLaughlin said that two security guards on duty Saturday morning said they heard the alarms but did not see the arsonist.