General Crime

Bethel Lutheran School Classes to Resume After Damaged from Suspected Arson

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Three fires believed to be deliberately set on Thursday damaged Cupertino High School and caused an elementary school to cancel classes on Friday, a school official said. One of the fires caused major damage inside and outside a high wall to the preschool area at Bethel Lutheran School at 10181 Finch Ave., Bethel principal Marion Abney said. The affected preschool area will have to be closed for several months, demolished and rebuilt, Abney said. Bethel’s fellowship hall also sustained smoke damage.

A dollar estimate on the fire’s carnage, which also destroyed an electrical wiring panel, has not been made but “it’s going to be quite an amount,” Abney said. The fire forced the school, which has about 130 students from preschool to grade 5, to cancel Friday’s preschool classes but the classes were combined and instruction resumed Monday, Abney said. The fire damage at Cupertino High across Finch Avenue from Bethel included some garbage bins and sports field equipment that together will cost about $5,000 to replace, Abney said. Bethel school staff heard that someone allegedly set the fires and that authorities had taken a 15-year-old boy into custody in connection with them, Abney said.

The first of the three fires started at a grass field beside Calabasas Creek about a block west of Bethel on Thursday night, Abney said. The other fires apparently were at Bethel and then Cupertino High, Abney said. A spokeswoman for Cupertino High could not be reached this afternoon.

The Santa Clara County Fire Department responded to a call at 11:09 p.m. Thursday about the fire at Bethel after units had just completed putting out the nearby grass fire, according to county fire Battalion Chief Ron Vega. Firefighters quickly knocked the fire down and the last truck left the area shortly before 4 a.m. on Friday, Vega said. The fire at the school is considered “suspicious” and remains under investigation, according to Vega. Vega did not mention the fire at Cupertino High in his report.

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