Trash cans set ablaze at local schools, investigation underway

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Courtesy of Jessica Speiser
Trash cans were set on fire at Covington School last week.

In the past week, trash cans have been lit on fire at two Los Altos elementary schools.

On the night of Feb. 4, three trash cans were set on fire at Covington School, and then the following evening a wooden trash enclosure was ignited at Loyola School.

The fire at Covington was outside the multipurpose room; it left smoke residue on the wall and damaged the concrete, Los Altos School District Assistant Superintendent Randy Kenyon confirmed. Loyola’s fire was near lunch tables at the rear of the campus and damaged a shade canopy, as well as the asphalt. Repairs will cost a few thousand dollars per site, Kenyon estimated.

The Los Altos Police Department confirmed that there were two arson cases last week involving setting trash on fire, one on the 700 block of Berry Avenue and the other on the 200 block of Covington Road. Those addresses line up with Loyola and Covington schools, respectively.

Both cases are being actively investigated by the Los Altos Police Department and Santa Clara County Arson Investigator, the police department confirmed.

According to Kenyon, trash cans have been set on fire at various schools over the years. These most recent fires are particularly concerning, Kenyon said, because more than one school was hit, back to back.

“Two schools in two nights – that’s a pattern,” he said.

Kenyon added that it is more worrying when fires are set near buildings, referencing the 2017 fire at Egan Junior High School that badly damaged a classroom wing. That fire began in a school locker and spread through an exterior wall into a classroom.

The trash cans set ablaze at Covington last week were outside the multipurpose room, but didn’t cause structural damage to the building.

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