Strother Elementary School Fire Intentionally Set, Suspect Sought

Monday, April 15th 2019, 5:19 pm
By: Clayton Cummins

Classes at Strother Elementary School were cancelled Monday after a suspect broke into the school and intentionally set a fire.  

Crews were called to the elementary school, located at 36085 Eastwest 1140 Road, around 4:15 a.m. Monday. After arriving on scene, it determined the fire was started around 2 a.m. 

Investigators were on scene nearly all day looking through damage left behind. 

Officials describe the suspect as an adult male. The suspect was caught on school surveillance video. 

"It's obvious they (the suspect) broke into the cafeteria doors and entered the building there," said Strother Fire Chief Nicholas Nadeau. "As far as anything else goes, that's all we see at the moment."

The suspect used an accelerant to start the fire. Most of the damage done appears to be in a hallway and several classrooms. 

"90% for the actual elementary school has smoke damage in it," said Nadeau. "We've been in contact with cleaning crews to come out and start cleaning, so they can go back to school tomorrow."

Strother Public School Superintendent Kolby Johnson lives on campus and was one of the first to arrive on scene.

"It's a school system where children come to learn, be nurtured and taken care of throughout the day," said Johnson, "It's disheartening to see that someone would come and do something like that to our school system, especially they targeted our little ones in elementary."

Johnson says many teachers helped in setting up temporary classrooms following the fire. 

Students will be able to finish the remaining four weeks of school in the building.

It may be challenging to explain to them what happened.

"We'll just have to try to explain to them that there is evil in this world. There are people that do things that sometimes are unexplainable," said Johnson. "There is also good that comes out of things like this and positives. We will definitely share those things."

Police and the fire department continue to investigate.