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Vandals break into old school, light fire


Someone broke into the old middle school in Grand Coulee last Friday night or early Saturday morning, tried to start a fire in the exercise room and caused at least $28,000 in damage.

Grand Coulee Dam School District Superintendent Dennis Carlson told school board members Monday that the parties responsible got in by breaking a window in a downstairs door.

Carlson said material from a number of fire extinguishers had been sprayed throughout the gym area, at the front entrance and down the classroom hall. The fire extinguishers were not found and were apparently taken.

Police stated that a person walking the track Sunday morning saw the open door and broken glass and called the police department. When police arrived, members of a flying club were just leaving and told officers of the damage inside. They said that basketball players were arriving as they were leaving. Basketball players cleaned up the gym floor so they could continue their tournament, which started Friday.

A basketball tournament official said he had locked up everything at about 11:30 p.m. Friday night. He said he had tried to call the athletic director but only had a number for the school and got an answering service. School officials didn’t learn of the break-in until Sunday.

Carlson said that a company that does cleanup estimated that it would take $28,000 in time and materials to clean up the damage. He stated that the walls and bleachers would have to be wiped clean to remove any danger of chemical damage.

Police said that footprints in the extinguisher dust went into every room not locked. A police report noted that there was a lot of damage in the exercise room and that that the vandals had poured bottles of rubbing alcohol, corn syrup and vegetable oil all over the floor and on the exercise equipment and tried to light the room on fire.

The fire melted the carpet but did not spread. Police gathered up numerous articles as evidence and sent them to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for analysis.

The investigation was continuing this week.

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