Police investigate small fire at Jordan school

Blaze is fourth to hit Palo Alto school or park since July 7

Palo Alto police are searching for two teenage boys suspected of setting fire to a beach towel at Jordan Middle School Sunday evening (Aug. 15), the fourth blaze at a Palo Alto public school or park since July 7, Palo Alto police Officer Mariana Villaescusa said.

The teenagers allegedly fled from Jordan after a bicyclist raced over to stomp out the flames. The bicyclist relayed details about what he witnessed to a neighbor who had also come to help extinguish the blaze. The bicyclist then rode off and the neighbor called police at 7:49 p.m., Villaescusa said.

Villaescusa said there was no danger of the isolated fire spreading to nearby buildings. There were no accelerants, such as gasoline, used on the towel, she said.

The suspects were described as white males between 15 and 18 years old, standing about 5 feet 10 inches tall, with one wearing a red shirt and the other wearing a gray shirt. Police have not determined if the fire is related to other school and park fires reported in the last month and a half, Villaescusa said.

A play structure was set aflame on July 7 at Hoover Park, a wood-and-plastic fire was started at Ohlone Elementary School on July 25 and a Dumpster was torched at Gunn High School on Aug. 3. A $2,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in relation to the Hoover Park fire.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by adult time
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 17, 2010 at 5:04 pm

These "teenagers" are old enough to do hard time for arson. Will the police release artists sketches so we can help track down these punks?

Like this comment
Posted by anon
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 17, 2010 at 10:24 pm

"Hey mom, I just need this beach towel for... uh... experimental purposes. No, I won't be home in time for dinner"

Like this comment
Posted by Waiting-For-Good-Government
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2010 at 11:20 am

MEASURE A funds were supposed to provide money for surveillance equipment. The fact that this money has not been spent reinforces the belief that those pushing this massive money grab lied through their teeth about how the money would be spent.

If this surveillance equipment were installed, then there is every reason to believe that the identities of these arsonist-wannabees would be known by now.

However, after the "egg-throwing" case and its aftermath, there is no doubt that the school district, the police and fire department would be sued for making their kids identity known--forcing the city and school district to drop the matter, or pay millions in compensation to "my good little boy".

Like this comment
Posted by anon
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 18, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Waiting-For-Good-Government, you do know that Jordan has installed multiple security cameras in the past couple years, including a few in the cafeteria area and the bike cages, historically the locations where the most thefts and criminal acts took place. I'm assuming the kids were somewhat smarter then what their actions suggest of their intelligence, so they probably lit it on fire away from the cameras.

Like this comment
Posted by Jordan alum and parent of Jordan and JLS alum
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 19, 2010 at 6:34 am

I believe that there was a fire at JLS that burned down the shop classroom several years ago when my boys were in school. I don't know if they ever identified the source of that blaze.....could have been arson. In response to that the school board or powers that be in their infinite wisdom purged the shop classroom and machines out of Jordan for the ostensible and really smart reason that "it wouldn't be fair for Jordan to have a shop classroom and not JLS." In my opinion this denied many students the joy of creating something useful and possibly even artistic (God forbid we waste time on art classes in PA....gotta do those hard academics every second in order to make the Ivy League). Unlike the 50's when I attended Jordan, they allowed girls to take shop class (and conversely boys to take Home Economics also referred to as cooking and sewing classes when I was in Junior High). My elder son absolutely loved shop classes and I still use the wooden oven rack puller he made and gaze at the clock of the US he lovingly presented to his parents with a sense of pride (I wasn't even going to mention the rowboat that survived one trip around Foothill Park's Boranda Lake)and later turned into a planter box for corn and later land fill). Thanks to shop classes which gave kids a time to get out of their heads during the day like PE (which used to be mandatory all grades when I was in school) my son was able to pick up skills that have served him into adulthood (he remodeled his own restaurant and kitchen).

Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 24, 2010 at 10:41 pm

why don' we make something for the youth o do at night during the summer, and on weekends...

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Peek inside the fine-dining Selby's, opening in Redwood City this summer
By Elena Kadvany | 4 comments | 3,991 views

Homestead Faire at Hidden Villa 4/27
By Laura Stec | 6 comments | 1,178 views

Premarital and Couples: "You're Not Listening to Me!" may mean "I don't feel heard."
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,035 views

All those things our city does – and doesn’t -- do
By Diana Diamond | 6 comments | 989 views

Migraines and motherhood
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 586 views


Vote now!

It's time once again to cast your vote for the best places to eat, drink, shop and spend time in Palo Alto. Voting is open now through May 27. Watch for the results of our 2019 Best Of contest on Friday, July 19.