Intervention Sought for Willard Student Involved in Trash Can Fires

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday November 20, 2008 - 09:59:00 AM

A student at Willard Middle School in Berkeley has admitted to starting some of the trash can fires at the school more than three weeks ago and will take part in intervention services. 

Berkeley Fire Department Deputy Chief Gil Dong said that the student’s name and age were being withheld since he is a juvenile. 

Berkeley fire officials responded to a fire alarm activation on Oct. 22 and on arrival found a small trash can fire being extinguished by school authorities. 

A total of three small trash can fires were reported, and two of them had started in restrooms located inside the school, Dong said, resulting in smoke but no injuries. 

School authorities interviewed several students in the weeks following the incident to get an idea about who could have been involved in the incident and finally identified one student, Dong said. 

“A fire investigator and a person-in-charge from the Juvenile Firesetter Program met with school officials and learned that the student had admitted to starting several of the fires, not all,” he said. “We don’t know what his motives were. We have recommended that our intervention officers meet with the child’s family to make sure they are willing to participate in the program. The final meeting has not taken place yet. We are trying to use intervention methods to change the student’s behavior.” 

Calls to Willard principal Robert Ithurburn and Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson Mark Coplan for comment were not returned by deadline.