$40,000 worth of damage to Hilltop Elementary after Monday night fire

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Damage to Hilltop Elem. was contained to the roof overhang off of the cafeteria. (Photos courtesy the Edmonds School District)

Hilltop Elementary School in unincorporated Lynnwood suffered $40,000 worth of damage after a fire on Monday night.

While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, preliminary reports note evidence of fireworks being used in the area.

The fire was reported just after 11:30 p.m. by a neighbor who was woken up by a loud booming noise and then saw approximately 4-foot flames and sparks coming from the roof of the school, located in the in the 20400 block of Damson Road, according to Fire District 1 spokeswoman Leslie Hynes.

Damage to Hilltop Elem. was contained to the roof overhang off of the cafeteria. (Photos courtesy the Edmonds School District)

“Firefighters at our Hilltop Fire Station 22 across the street from the school also heard the loud boom, but couldn’t see anything amiss from their vantage point. A couple minutes later, they were dispatched to the fire at the school,” said Hynes.

The fire was contained to a small area of roof overhang on the south side of the school’s cafeteria.

No one was injured in the incident.

An investigator from the Snohomish County Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire started in an evergreen shrub near the building and extended into the wooden roof overhang.

“Fortunately, the wall behind the shrub is brick, which likely limited fire damage,” Hynes said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The investigator noted evidence of fireworks use in a school courtyard and the initial 9-1-1 call mentioned fireworks in the area.

The school’s principal, Janie O’Brien, said in a letter to families that they feel fortunate that the damage was contained to the overhang, but behavior that leads to damaged school property is a serious issue.

“This does not lessen the seriousness of what occurred and it remains under investigation by the Fire Marshall’s Office,” O’Brien said in the letter. “Since summer break started, we have had instances of several broken windows, graffiti and continued issues of individuals being seen on the roof of the school. These instances are cause for concern. Any of these acts, but climbing on the roof in particular, can not be tolerated.”

Anyone with information about the fire are encouraged to call Fire Investigator Dan Lorentzen at 425-262-2415. Other acts of vandalism can be reported to the Edmonds School District Safe Schools Tipline at 425-431-7010.

All events and activities planned at the school will go on as scheduled.

The full letter from O’Brien can be read below:

Dear Hilltop Families –

I want to share with you accurate information regarding a fire that occurred on our campus late evening Monday, July 24. Dispatchers at 911 received an initial call at 11:33 p.m. from a neighbor who was awoken by a loud noise. They witnessed flames rising several feet above the roofline of the gym. Fire officials said the fire started in an evergreen shrub against the south gym wall. There were remnants of firecracker pieces found in the courtyard area close by, but the actual cause of the fire is still under investigation.  

I feel fortunate to share that thanks to the neighbor’s quick report to 911 about what they saw and the immediate response of Fire District 1 firefighters, the damage was contained to the southside roof overhang of the gym. Structural damage is estimated at $40,000 and we were fortunate the shrub was against a brick wall, fire officials said.

However, this does not lessen the seriousness of what occurred and it remains under investigation by the Fire Marshall’s Office. Since summer break started, we have had instances of several broken windows, graffiti and continued issues of individuals being seen on the roof of the school. These instances are cause for concern. Any of these acts, but climbing on the roof in particular, can not be tolerated.

The safety of our school community including our school grounds is important to all of us. I encourage you to call:
Fire Investigator Dan Lorentzen at 425-262-2415 with any information pertaining to the fire; the Edmonds School District Safe Schools Tipline at 425-431-7010 with any information you have pertaining recent acts of vandalism at the school; or 911 if you see vandalism of any kind while it is occurring.

Also please note, this incident does not curtail any events or activities planned at the school. All will go on as scheduled.

Sincerely,

Janie O’Brien
Principal

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