San Jose

Arson Suspected in Early Morning Fire at San Jose School; Man Detained: SJFD

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An early morning fire at a school in San Jose is being investigated as arson, and a person of interest was detained Friday, according to the San Jose Fire Department.

At about 6 a.m., fire crews responded to a fire in the 1500 block of Lucretia Avenue on the shared campus of Cornerstone Academy and Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School in San Jose, fire officials said.

The flames appeared to have started outside and spread to an administration building, fire officials said. The fire was extinguished at about 6:45 a.m.

The cause of the blaze was not yet known, but a man was detained as a person of interest due to the suspicious nature of the fire, officials said.

Arson investigators were looking into whether or not the man, who they say hindered firefighting efforts by the first arriving crews, might also be linked to other incidents overnight, and it was determined the fires were not related, fire officials said.

"There were other bystanders that were videotaping, but the person of interest that was detained was yelling at the engine company and trying to get in the way," San Jose fire Capt. Brian Palodichuk said about the school fire.

SJFD did say there were multiple small rubbish fires in the area of the school before the main fire sparked.

Kennedy Elementary is in the Franklin-McKinley School District, which is on fall recess this week, but Cornerstone Academy was in session Friday. Cornerstone Principal Marion Dickel said the fire took out the campus Wi-Fi.

"It’s just another thing in a really challenging year," Dickel said. "I think the positive thing is that our staff and students have shown how resilient they can be and were going to keep going and keep learning, and that’s what’s important."

Dickel said school staff would use Wi-Fi hot spots to access lessons. The principal also wanted parents to know student pick-up and drop-off would be normal.

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