A witness called to report the fire in the East Anchorage school at about 12:30 a.m, AFD said in a release. When firefighters arrived, they found heavy smoke coming from a classroom at the corner of the building. The fire triggered a sprinkler system in the classroom. Thirteen fire vehicles responded and brought it under control by 12:52 a.m., AFD said.
Several classrooms were damaged by water, flames and smoke, according to school officials. The classroom where the fire began belonged to Heather Helgeson, who has 28 fourth-grade students returning to school in a week. She went to see her room on Sunday morning and made a video.
Her classroom window had been broken. “A flare got put in my room and it caught fire,” she said.
“The District will continue the clean up until school resumes,” Esary said.
Insurance will likely cover the cost of replacing the damaged electronics, she said.
A neighbor witnessed the vandalism and it was caught on camera, said Rob Holland, the District’s director of operations.
“At least one person is visible on the video. We can’t determine who that is. The police may or may not be able to,” he said.
A cleaning crew, four of them custodians, were summoned from their beds early Sunday and showed up within an hour of the fire, he said. Everyone is focused on minimizing the disruption for the children.
“The staff that deployed at 1 and 2 in the morning were heroic people,” he said. “We aren’t going to be held down by acts of violence. We’re going to turn this around and make it seamless.”