School opens on time despite weekend fires Vandals blamed for $5,500 in damage at Dasher Green

September 03, 1997|By Erin Texeira | Erin Texeira,SUN STAFF

Two small fires at Columbia's Dasher Green Elementary School forced cleanup crews to work through the Labor Day weekend but did not affect the school's reopening yesterday, according to school and fire officials.

No one was injured in the two fires, which caused an estimated $5,500 in damage to school buildings, said Robert B. Thomas, deputy state fire marshal.

"All indications at this point are that the fires are juvenile activity," Thomas said.

Said Friedel Warner, principal at Dasher Green: "Apparently it was vandalism. It's pretty frustrating. It took a lot of effort to clean this up; it did ruin a bunch of people's weekend."

The first fire occurred about 11: 30 p.m. Friday when the wooden steps of a portable classroom were set ablaze, Thomas said. Quickly contained, the fire did not spread beyond the steps, which will cost about $500 to replace, he said.

On Saturday about 3 p.m., another fire was reported at the back entrance to the school kitchen.

This fire was more serious: Damage -- including the destruction of the metal exterior doors and smoke damage to the kitchen -- will cost about $5,000 to repair, Thomas said.

The inside of the kitchen sustained minimal damage and was used for the preparation of meals yesterday, Warner said.

By the start of the school day yesterday, most of the repairs had been completed by school cleanup and construction crews, she said.

Dasher Green shares a campus with Owen Brown Middle School at 6700 Cradlerock Way in Columbia's Owen Brown village.

"I was glad to see the attitude of people from the community," Warner said. "They stopped by to offer help and offered to patrol the school complex. These are the people who want to help reclaim ownership of the community."

No witnesses have come forward, but investigations into the fires are continuing, Thomas said.

Pub Date: 9/02/97

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