Crestline fire suspect appears in court

Prosecutor says teen has been cooperating since school burned

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

Updated: May 22, 2014, 7:43 PM

 

A 17-year-old boy accused of setting a fire that destroyed Vancouver’s Crestline Elementary School 15 months ago made his first appearance Thursday in Clark County Juvenile Court.

Dylan Mork has been charged with second-degree arson and is scheduled to be arraigned June 26.

Neatly dressed in a dark suit, Mork appeared Thursday with his parents and his attorney, Jack Green, in front of Superior Court Commissioner Dayann Liebman.

Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino told the court Thursday that Mork has been cooperating with prosecutors and police since the beginning of the investigation into the fire on Feb. 3, 2013. However, investigators didn’t announce that the fire was human-caused, or that they had a suspect, until last month.

“Mr. Mork’s attorney has been in constant contact with us and police,” Gasperino said. “As such, we don’t have any release concerns.”

Mork was summoned to the court, rather than arrested and booked into the Juvenile Detention Center. Liebman said she would allow him to continue living with his parents while the case is prosecuted.

The overall cost of the fire is projected to reach $22 million by September when a replacement school opens, according to officials with Evergreen Public Schools.

The three-alarm early-morning fire destroyed the school, at 13003 S.E. Seventh St., and displaced 500 students and 50 staff for the rest of last school year and all of this year.

An official with Canfield, the third-party administrator for the district’s schools insurance association, has said that the association may sue Mork’s parents for damages. Phil Riche, Canfield’s vice president, has said the association’s attorneys likely would wait to take any civil action until the criminal case is resolved.

Mork, a junior at Mountain View High School, is a first-year student in the restaurant management program at the Clark County Skills Center. He never attended Crestline Elementary. He was 15 at the time of the fire.

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 temporary quarters on the former Hewlett-Packard campus on Southeast 34th Street that is now owned by SEH America.

The new Crestline school is set to be completed Aug. 1 to give teachers time to move in and set up their classrooms. The school will have upgraded technology, security and, notably, fire-suppression systems. Those weren’t required at the time the original Crestline was constructed in the early 1970s. The new school is being built on an updated plan and will resemble Endeavour Elementary.

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