Arson at Gig Harbor HS equipment shed causes $150K in damage

GIG HARBOR, Wash. --  $150,000 in damage was done when a portable toilet was set on fire, spreading to a nearby equipment storage shed at Gig Harbor High School.

School officials say $86,000 worth of track and football equipment was destroyed.

All of this as track athletes are preparing for the State Championship meet which begins Thursday, and football practice starts next week.

Brenden Rivera will be suiting up with his football teammates, hoping the smell of smoke isn’t still lingering.

“This was yeah, definitely a bad time for this to happen.”

Gig Harbor Police say a student at Henderson High School, which is the alternative school on the same campus as Gig Harbor High School, is responsible for the equipment shed fire.

Nick Belarde saw the fire.

“I think people do a lot these days just to get momentum behind themselves, so… whatever they can do to send a message I guess... If they want to continue to make trouble, they’re only gonna make things worse for themselves.

School administrators and witness accounts helped police identify the suspect.

Belarde says he was shocked, so was his coach, “That’s all of our stuff—blocking pads, we have $10,000 play clocks in there.”

Brenden is frustrated about the situation, as he is entering into a new season, “It’s aggravating because it’s just a lot of equipment, a lot of money spent on equipment and other things that a lot of kids use, and it impacts pretty much all of us, all of the athletes.”

Police arrested that student. He’s now facing 2nd degree arson charges.

As for Brenden, he’s confident his school's track team will rise to the occasion at state,  “I think a lot of the kids are level headed and can work through things.”

And his football team will prevail, “It definitely sucks… but at the end of the day, we are just gonna move forward and just continue and hopefully have a great season.”

In all— school officials say $150,000 in damage was done—all of the track equipment lost, football gear damaged, and the shed was destroyed.

The suspect was booked into a juvenile detention facility on the felony arson charges. No one was injured in the incident. The investigation is ongoing. 

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