Two arrests made in Trace Elementary School fire

Arson investigators are at the scene of the fire at Trace Elementary School on Dana Avenue where one firefighter was injured.
October 15, 2010 12:23:39 PM PDT
San Jose police arrested two teenagers in an arson at Trace Elementary School this summer that caused millions of dollars in damage.

After the July fire, investigators determined fairly quickly it was the work of arsonists. But finding those responsible wasn't as easy. Three months later, they've now identified who caused the $10 million worth of damage.

On Thursday morning, the San Jose Fire Department called a news conference to announce the arrest of two teen boys, ages 16 and 17, who investigators say intentionally ignited the fire that ripped through and gutted Trace Elementary School on Dana Avenue.

More than 150 firefighters fought the massive, pre-dawn July 5 fire that destroyed a 25,000 square foot building that housed 16 classrooms, the library and several offices.

Police arrested the teen suspects on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and both are still being held in Santa Clara County's Juvenile Hall.

Arson investigators say what connected them to the two San Jose teen residents is a combination of both forensic evidence and tips from people in the community.

"The reward helped motivate community to call in and bring forth any minute though that they may have come up with that could have led to this event taking place," San Jose Fire Marshall Chief Ivan Lee said.

"We're confident that due process will be served, and hope if these juveniles, if found responsible, will receive the counseling needed and direction to help them become well-adjusted members of the society in the future," San Jose Fire Chief William McDonald said.

Trace students were still able to begin classes as scheduled in August because many temporary portables were set up during the rebuilding process.

The school has received an outpouring of support from individuals and Bay Area businesses who have donated classroom supplies and learning materials to the teachers, as well as money to help cover the $100,000 fire insurance deductible.

Investigators are not saying yet whether these two teen suspects are students in the San Jose Unified District. Before any more information is revealed about them, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office must finish reviewing the case and decide how to prosecute this case of arson.


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