Public’s Help Wanted in School Arson Investigation

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Authorities are seeking help from the public after a fire broke out at a local school last week.

Newport Beach police and fire departments were called to the scene at Ensign Middle School around 4:30 a.m. Friday.

“The first police officer on scene observed that the school’s gym was engulfed in flames,” NBPD spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella wrote in a community message on Monday.

The main fire was knocked down within 20 minutes, Manzella reported. Extended fire attack efforts lasted approximately one hour as firefighters extinguished flames that had spread into a wall chase and then up into the attic space.

The blaze was contained to the gym, girls’ locker room, and physical education offices.

Students were not expected on campus Friday, due to the Veterans Day holiday.

Circumstances for the fire appeared “suspicious,” fire personnel noted and an arson investigation was initiated.  

NBPD detectives documented instances of vandalism to the school that were not present when classes were dismissed the previous afternoon.  

“At this time, it is unknown if the vandalism and fire are related,” Manzella explained.

Police believe the vandalism occurred some time between end of school on Nov. 10 and the time the fire was reported Nov. 11.  

Orange Fire Department, Orange County Fire Authority, and Garden Grove Fire Department also responded to the fire.

No injuries were reported.

Anyone with additional information or who saw suspicious persons or activity around the school during this time frame is encouraged to contact Sergeant Bryan Moore at (949) 644-3763 or [email protected].

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