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Two juvenile girls charged in old Tualatin Elementary fire

The girls, 15 and 17, were charged with felonies since one of the buildings was occupied.
by: Jaime Valdez, HOT SPOTS — Firefighters from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue look for hotspots on the roof of one of the buildings that served as a classroom at the old Tualatin Elementary school on Southwest Boones Ferry Road. No one was injured in the fire which started around 2 p.m. Aug. 24.

TUALATIN - Tualatin police have arrested two teenage girls in connection with starting a two-alarm fire, which damaged a building at the old Tualatin Elementary School site Thursday.

No one was injured by the fire, but the building did have smoke and fire damage.

According to police and Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue fire investigators, the two Tualatin girls, 15 and 17, confessed to setting the fire. The girls reportedly told the police department's school resource officers they had set the fire.

The juveniles are to be lodged at Donald E. Long School, a correctional facility. According to a TVF and R press release, the girls were charged with first-degree arson - a class A felony - and first-degree criminal mischief - a class C felony.

The felony charges came after investigators confirmed that at least one of the buildings on the campus was occupied at the time of the fire.

The girls reportedly set fire to a vacant building being used for storage by the Tigard-Tualatin School District, but the building was connected to two other buildings by a breezeway, which caught fire.

The girls were also charged with third-degree criminal mischief after they reportedly confessed to stealing a fire extinguisher from an apartment complex before the fire.

TVF and R spokeswoman Karen Eubanks said that a caller had reported seeing smoke coming from one of the old elementary school buildings Thursday afternoon. Firefighters responded about 2:14 p.m.

A second alarm was sounded once firefighters arrived on the scene and saw that the fire had started on one of the building's sides near a wooden breezeway, which was connected to a second building. The fire was concentrated along the roof.

Eubanks said the second alarm was called as a precaution to ensure the crews had enough resources in case the fire spread. In total, 40 firefighters responded to the scene.

The fire was under control by 2:36 p.m., Eubanks said. At least one volunteer and one school district employee were in the Gerald Avery Building at the time of the fire.