Charge filed in Port Angeles High School roof fire

PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles man accused of setting fire to a Port Angeles High School building told police he intended to throw a mortar firework straight up into the air, not onto the roof, where it allegedly caused burn damages that could exceed $75,000.

The clarification was contained in a supplemental probable cause statement filed Tuesday by the Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in their case against Triton A. Edwards, 19, charged Tuesday with first-degree reckless burning, a Class C felony.

First-degree reckless burning occurs when a person recklessly causes damage “by knowingly causing a fire or explosion,” according to the Revised Code of Washington.

It is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson set Edwards’ arraignment for 9 a.m. Nov. 20.

The probable cause statement filed last week — an arrest report written by Port Angeles Police Officer Kelly Perry — had said a surveillance video that recorded the events leading to the Nov. 3 fire had shown an item that was thrown from among five individuals that “appeared to be some type of homemade molotoff [Molotov] cocktail.”

It was one of two flaming objects thrown on two high school roofs at about 2:30 a.m. Nov. 3, one of which went out, according to the initial report.

The first one was thrown by one of Edwards’ friends “‘up, over” toward the gym, Edwards told Port Angeles Police Officer Jeffery Ordona, according Ordona’s supplemental report.

Edwards, seen in the video with a fused object, told Ordona he threw the second firework. Edwards would not name the people he was with.

“Triton insisted that there were no Molotov cocktails and that the group only had two consumer mortars,” Ordona said.

They decided to light the fireworks at the high school “to make noise and have fun,” Ordona said Edwards told him.

“Triton told me he made a stupid decision.”

Edwards, a former Roughriders’ football player, said he did not expect the mortar to set the fire “”since it was wet out,” according to Ordona’s report.

“The next morning, Triton learned the building caught fire.”

Port Angeles School District spokeswoman Jennifer Sperline said Tuesday in a text message that a final damage estimate could take “a couple weeks.”

The fire burned about 500 square feet of the 1,800-square-foot roof. There was no other damage.

It was reported 9-1-1 by a Peninsula Daily News delivery driver who saw smoke coming from the building at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Triton was arrested after two people identified him as a person in the video.

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