Spanaway school cancels Monday class after fire seriously damages building

Classes are canceled Monday for students at Bethel Acceleration Academy after a fire broke out Saturday night.

The school district is already stretched thin and now has to find another option for the 230 students who attend the school.

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Central Pierce Fire and Rescue said there were heavy flames on the exterior of the building when fire crews arrived and fire got into the attic as well.

“There’s lot of smoke damage on the inside,” said Capt. Darrin Shaw, with Pierce Central Fire and Rescue.

“See all those vents up there? They're all black,” said Jody Miller, one of the property owners.

The building owners said that because of the location of the flames – on the outside of the building – they’re wondering if someone set the fire.

“It seems a little suspicious,” said Susan Miller, another property owner.

Fire investigators have ruled nothing out.

The Millers said they've had trouble in the area before.

“We have vagrants all the time around here. So yeah it is a real problem,” Jody said.

“How do you protect yourself from this? There are a lot of people who are just hanging around these buildings at night. We have security who comes through these buildings every two hours but apparently we have to do more than that,” Susan said.

The fire is another blow to the Bethel School District.

KIRO 7 reported earlier this week that the district is growing too fast for its space and its funding. Superintendent Tom Seigel said Bethel’s schools keep getting more crowded.

“We have to find a place to put our kids. We've just been growing and we're going to continue to grow as people move into the area,” Seigel said.

Another building, also owned by the Millers, might be a temporary solution to the problem of where the students at Accelerated Academy will go.

“We just want to get these kids back,” Jody Miller said.

The fire marshal at the scene said he would be back Sunday morning to examine the damage in the daylight and hopefully determine the cause of the fire.

Accelerated Academy describes itself as:

“Acceleration Academies provides academic and support services to young adults either at risk of not earning a high school diploma or wishing to return to their education.”

A message on the school district homepage reads:

"Important Message: Bethel Acceleration Academy Closed on Monday, October 15. Due to a fire over the weekend at the Bethel Acceleration Academy building on Pacific Avenue, the BAA will be closed on Monday. Students should work from home. Alternate arrangements will be made and communicated to students and families for Tuesday and beyond."

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