Though school doesn't start for another few weeks, Soldotna High School had an early housewarming Friday when someone set fire to a trash can near the parking lot entrance to the building around 8:30 p.m.
Central Emergency Services Fire Marshal Gary Hale said a passing motorist noticed the blaze and reported it. The motorist offered to lead emergency responders to the fire but that did not end up being necessary.
"You couldn't miss it," Hale said.
The source of the fire was a wooden trash receptacle with a plastic trash can inside that had been pushed very close to the parking lot entryway. It was totally involved when firefighters got to the scene. Hale said there were flames reaching to the top of the entryway's ceiling, about 10 feet in the air.
The first firefighters at the scene put out the flames with portable fire extinguishers.
"The fire was under control within three minutes before the first arriving engine," Hale said.
When the first engine got there, firefighters used water from it to completely extinguish the blaze.
Though the fire was quickly put out, it did make for some excitement in the area.
"I don't think there was anything going on in the neighborhood," Hale said. "When you hear one siren and then two and thee sirens coming in, you start to get people who have got nothing else better to do, so we got a lot of onlookers."
Two windows in the school's entryway were cracked from the heat of the fire and there was significant smoke damage done to the exterior upper portion of the building's ceiling, Hale said. Damage is estimated at $700. A representative of the Kenai Peninsula Borough was informed of the damage.
Hale said the source of ignition is not known at this time, but the incident is being investigated as arson. If anyone has any information about who is responsible for the blaze, they are asked to call CES or the Soldotna Police Department.
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