A fire that broke out at Orville Wright Middle School in Westchester Nov. 29, causing approximately $75,000 in damage and leaving three people with smoke inhalation injuries, was intentionally set, fire officials said.
Two 14-year-old boys, who are believed to be students at the school, were arrested and booked on arson charges in connection with the fire, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Matt Spence said. The juveniles were subsequently released into the custody of their parents.
The arrest of a third 14-year-old boy is pending in the arson-related incident, LAFD arson investigator Joe Sanchez said.
The fire, which started at about 11:30 a.m. at Orville Wright, 6550 W. 80th St., forced the evacuation of about 900 students and faculty at the school. The students were moved to the quad area and did not return to class that day, Los Angeles Unified School District spokeswoman Susan Cox said.
Fifty-seven Los Angeles firefighters were called to the scene where first-arriving units saw a freestanding building at the south end of the school campus with heavy fire showing, Spence said. The blaze reportedly started in a restroom inside the boys’ physical education building, Cox said.
The building contains two bathrooms and is adjacent to a classroom, but away from the main office and auditorium, Sanchez said.
Firefighters fully extinguished the blaze in 35 minutes, Spence said.
One student and two adults were treated for minor smoke inhalation, Spence said. One of the adults, a 50-year-old woman was transported to a local hospital for treatment of a medical condition that was aggravated by the smoke, Sanchez said. No other injuries were reported.
Arson investigators quickly determined that the fire was “intentionally and maliciously set,” Spence said.
Sanchez said the fire was apparently set by placing combustible materials on a window ledge in the bathroom and igniting them. The flames ignited plastic around the window, further fueling the fire, which extended toward the ceiling, he said.
The bathroom and a storage room that contains records and additional school supplies were extensively damaged, and another bathroom was also damaged, Sanchez said.
The incident remains under investigation and all three juveniles will be summoned to court at a later date, Spence said.
Cox said no decision has been made regarding potential disciplinary action, noting the investigation is continuing.