Teens charged in Aberdeen school fire

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ABERDEEN — Two boys have been charged — one with arson, both with burglary — in a fire last weekend that destroyed the 93-year-old Weatherwax Building at Aberdeen High School.

A 16-year-old from Aberdeen was charged with first-degree arson and second-degree burglary. Now being held in lieu of $100,000 bail, he was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday. Grays Harbor County Prosecutor Jason Richards said the teen also will be subject to a hearing to determine whether he will be tried as an adult or a juvenile.

An arson conviction in juvenile court could mean detention until age 21. In adult court, a first-time offender would get 21 to 27 months in prison under state sentencing guidelines.

A 17-year-old from Ocean Shores was charged with second-degree burglary. His case will remain in juvenile court, Richards said. He was being held on $50,000 bail and also was scheduled for arraignment Thursday.

The teens were arrested at their homes late Thursday and were being held at the Grays Harbor Juvenile Detention Center.

Police said the boys had broken into the building and were in the counseling center, where they set material on fire before leaving. A witness has told police the intent of the fire was to burn materials on a desk in the room, not level the building. Court papers say the 16-year-old apparently was concerned about the impact of the materials on a custody battle between his parents.

The affidavit for a search warrant at the boys' homes said both were drunk during the Jan. 5 break-in. The fire — set about 11:30 p.m. — was reported about 11:44 p.m.

The affidavit was obtained by The (Aberdeen) Daily World.

Contractors were working to make the site safe enough for investigators to enter. Classes resumed Thursday for 1,100 students, using other buildings on the campus and nearby churches.

The three-alarm fire destroyed the three-story building, which housed 22 classrooms, a library, computer labs and the counseling center.