Arson Suspected In Hoopa High School Fire

Blaze Consumes Industrial Arts Building

The Hoopa Volunteer Fire Department responded to a structure fire call around 3:445 a.m. Monday, April 17. The fire consumed the industrial arts building at Hoopa Valley High School./Photo courtesy of Rebecca Robertson.

The Hoopa Volunteer Fire Department responded to a structure fire call around 3:445 a.m. Monday, April 17. The fire consumed the industrial arts building at Hoopa Valley High School./Photo courtesy of Rebecca Robertson.

By ALLIE HOSTLER, Two Rivers Tribune

Published on April 18, 2017 in Volume 23, Issue 15

A structure fire was reported around 3:30 a.m. Monday morning at Hoopa Valley High School.

Although the fire was reported quickly by onsite security guards, the entire industrial arts complex—auto shop, wood shop, metal shop and band/choir room—was consumed, along with a nearby storage container.

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Stacey Hanson said the fire is suspicious and under investigation by the county’s arson taskforce.

Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District Superintendent Jon Ray said he was alerted to the fire at 3:44 a.m. by school security personnel who had already called both Hoopa and Willow Creek Volunteer Fire Departments.

Another arson attempt was made the same morning at the Hoopa Valley Tribal Fisheries Department across the street from the High School.

Ray said the burned buildings were closed over Christmas break after they tested positive for black mold—the culprit of district-wide closures and the subsequent $90 million dollar renovation of classrooms and essential facilities on every campus.

A contractor recently completed the abatement process by removing the mold and contents of the buildings. As a result the rooms were hollow.

“Literally, a skeleton,” Ray said. “It went up super fast.”

After the abatement was completed the school used the auto shop as storage for the science curriculum.

“Unfortunately, we lost a ton of science stuff and some items that were located in a Connex storage unit outside. We also lost some of the larger equipment that was located outside of the wood and metal shops,” Ray said.

Long-time band and choir teacher Dennis Doiron said he moved most of the band equipment out of the room in December and had only left behind old sheets of music and antiquated text books. He also left behind about 20 trophies that the band and choir earned over the years.

“I was told those things were moved to a storage unit,” Doiron said. “I sure hope they were and that they weren’t in the storage unit that burned.”

Prior to the fire, KTJUSD submitted plans to the Department of State Architect to re-design the industrial complex into a state-of-the-art vocational education center with a target completion date of December of 2017.

Their plans will be delayed because of the fire.

“We’re still moving forward,” Ray said. “It’s now a question of how the funding will be affected. We’ll have to start from ground zero. We literally have to re-do every blue print. Our previous plans used the footprint of the existing building. Now that it’s gone we have to start over.”

Although the plans will need readjustment, their plans to build a vocational education center will be similar. In addition to an auto and auto body shop, metal shop and wood shop, there will be a separate room complete with four stations; a computer assisted technology station with 3-D printing; heavy equipment simulator for training purposes; electrical engineering station and a manufacturing technology station.

“It’s going to be an awesome vocational education center,” Ray said. “This might push us back a couple of months, but we’ll still get it done.”

It was also reported on Monday morning that an additional arson attempt was made on the Hoopa Valley Tribal Fisheries Department office.

Few details are available; however the Hoopa Valley Tribe has asked that all neighboring tribal departments that have security camera footage share the footage with arson investigators.

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