After a 14-month investigation into the Crestline Elementary School fire, investigators said Tuesday that a 17-year-old boy set the blaze, and a second boy may have been involved.
Dylan Mork, 17, was issued a criminal summons to appear in court on allegations of second-degree arson. His court hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. May 21 in Clark County Juvenile Court. No charges have been filed against the second boy, whose name was not released.
According to Mork’s Facebook page, he is a junior at Mountain View High School, also in Evergreen Public Schools.
The three-alarm fire destroyed the school, at 13003 S.E. Seventh St., on Feb. 3, 2013. It displaced more than 500 students and staff and caused an estimated $8 million in damage, including the building, its contents, the cost of demolition and replacement.
“I’m sure a lot of people are wondering why the investigation took so long,” said Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino. “We wanted to be certain with a serious charge like arson. We had the ATF (federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) lab in Maryland conduct a test burn where they built a model. They essentially replicated where they thought the fire started. It’s not something they can do overnight.”
Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli said the Vancouver Fire-Arson Unit investigators sifted through hundreds of leads and interviews that ultimately led them to determine the origin and cause, with help from the ATF.
Officials won’t release details of how the fire was set until the case goes to court. Scarpelli said the fire was incendiary, meaning it was set on purpose.
Scarpelli said the investigation demanded a lot of staff hours from investigators, both local and federal, who worked hard to find a resolution for the community.
“It was a very, very expensive cost to our community,” Scarpelli said of the fire.
Mork’s attorney, Jack Green, released a statement Tuesday evening on behalf of the teen.
“We are not in a position to comment on this unfortunate matter at this time other than to say that our client and his parents have been cooperating with law enforcement from the beginning,” Green wrote in an email.
District Superintendent John Deeder said he was glad to have some resolution in the case.
“Evergreen Public Schools is pleased to have answers and some closures on the fire that was a huge loss to the students, staff and community of Crestline Elementary,” Deeder said. “The district has cooperated with investigators during this process and will do so again as it moves to the prosecution phase.”
The school is being rebuilt on an accelerated construction schedule and will be ready for teachers to move in by Aug. 1. The new school will have upgraded technology, security and fire-suppression systems.
On Monday, workers will install heating and cooling equipment on the roof, said Cory Zonich with Skanska, the lead contractor for the project. The classrooms have been painted.
“On the gym wing and administration area, the roofing is about done and we’re ready to start dry-walling,” Zonich said Tuesday.
After the fire, students and staff were divided by grade level and sent to five elementary schools for the remaining four months of last school year. This school year, students and staff are housed at the temporary Crestline school on the former Hewlett-Packard campus on Southeast 34th Street that is now owned by SEH America.