South King Fire and Rescue firefighters respond to a fire in the gym at Thomas Jefferson High School on July 4. Photo courtesy of SKFR

South King Fire and Rescue firefighters respond to a fire in the gym at Thomas Jefferson High School on July 4. Photo courtesy of SKFR

Police seek arsonist after 2 fires damage Thomas Jefferson High School gym

Damage from July 1 and July 4 fires estimated to be $50,000 or less, according to Federal Way Public Schools.

Two minor fires inside Thomas Jefferson High School within five days are believed to be caused by arson, according to South King Fire and Rescue officials.

There were two fires in the school’s gymnasium last week, according to South King Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Gordon Goodsell.

Crews responded to the first fire on Monday, July 1 and the second fire on Thursday, July 4.

These fires occurred in the lower auxiliary gym at Thomas Jefferson and in both instances, district security and South King Fire and Rescue responded to the scene, said Kassie Swenson, chief of communications for Federal Way Public Schools.

Crews found the gymnasium full of smoke upon arriving around 4 a.m. on July 4, according to South King’s Twitter page.

The King County Sheriff’s Office is investigating these crimes, Goodsell said.

The two fires were contained to the lower auxiliary gym and do not impact the school construction project, Swenson stated.

Preliminary estimates of the fire damage determined the cost to be in excess of $100,000, Goodsell stated.

However, the district’s current cost estimate for the damage repairs is $50,000 or less.

Repairs are expected take two weeks or less to complete, and bond dollars will not be used to pay for the repairs, Swenson said.

“We are thankful for our local fire department and law enforcement partners to help maintain safe and secure school campuses,” she stated in an email.

Thomas Jefferson High School is in the design and early construction stages due to Federal Way Public Schools bond project, which will rebuild eight schools throughout the district.

Construction crews are currently working this summer to conduct preliminary site work for the school’s rebuild, which is set to begin in winter of 2020, according to the district.

If anyone has information about these fires, South King urges individuals to contact King County police.

The Arson Alarm Foundation may award up to $10,000 to anyone who provides information leading to a conviction in this case.


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