Former Port Angeles student accused in roof fire

Four others said to have been with him

PORT ANGELES — A 19-year-old former Port Angeles High School student suspected of setting fire early Tuesday morning to a school district building — one of five who reportedly tossed flaming objects onto two high school roofs — was released without bail Friday to await the possible filing of charges.

Superior Court Judge Brent Basden released Triton A. Edwards on his own recognizance.

Basden set a 1 p.m. Tuesday hearing for the possible filing of charges, by the prosecuting attorney’s office, of felony first-degree reckless burning and gross misdemeanor second-degree reckless burning.

School district surveillance video showed the former Roughriders football player and four others involved in tossing the flaming objects.

They appeared to be two homemade Molotov cocktails, thrown onto two high school building roofs, the second one the high school automotive building that burst into flames, according to the arrest report by Port Angeles Police Officer Kelly Perry.

In one of the videos, a person is seen throwing “the lit item up onto the roof of the high school,” Perry said.

Perry interviewed two people who identified Triton as a person in the surveillance video although not specifically the one who tossed the lit objects, Perry said.

Triton, initially arrested Thursday for investigation of second-degree arson, “confessed to being responsible for the arson,” Perry said in the report.

Material used to start the fire was collected by the Port Angeles Fire Department, he said in the report.

There were no injuries.

The video showed Triton and the four other individuals, none of who were identified in the report, gathered in a circle and lighting something on fire before one of them threw it onto the roof, exploding with a flash, Perry said.

The video showed the group then running behind some buildings in the dark before another flaming object landed on the automotive building, followed by another flash from the explosion.

Perry said the video showed that at about 2:40 a.m. Tuesday, flames appeared from the second building.

At about the same time, at 2:38 a.m., a Peninsula Daily News delivery driver called 9-1-1 to report seeing smoke coming from the roof.

“When I drove by, there was smoke coming out,” she said Friday.

She asked that her name not be published for privacy reasons.

She stopped to look inside the building and did not see smoke but called 9-1-1 out of caution anyway.

“I didn’t want to report something that was stupid,” she recalled.

“Then I went on Peabody Street to park, and then all of a sudden, flames shot out of the ceiling and whoa, it is on fire.

“There were no alarms going off, and it was totally dead in the neighborhood, and nobody would have noticed it.

“It smelled like a fire. It smelled like burnt plastic. I don’t think anybody would have noticed it for quite a while.”

The fire burned about 500 square feet of the 1,800-square-foot flat membrane roof, city Fire Marshall-Assistant Fire Chief Mike Sanders said.

There was no water or smoke damage to the interior of the building.

Repairs could cost more than $75,000, school district spokeswoman Jennifer Sperline said Tuesday in a text message.

“It will be a while until we get an exact estimate,” she said Friday.

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.

Second-degree reckless burning occurs when a person knowingly causes a fire or explosion that recklessly places something in danger of destruction or damage.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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