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Fire at south Sacramento County middle school was arson, investigators say

An early morning fire April 6 damaged three classrooms at James Rutter Middle School before firefighters could extinguish the blaze.
An early morning fire April 6 damaged three classrooms at James Rutter Middle School before firefighters could extinguish the blaze. Elk Grove Unified School District

An early morning fire that damaged several classrooms at James Rutter Middle School nearly two weeks ago was arson, according to the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.

Fire officials called on the community Wednesday to help identify the person or people who caused the fire.

A school alarm system alerted fire dispatch to a problem at the school on Palmer House Drive in the Florin area of Sacramento County about 1:30 a.m. April 6. When firefighters arrived, they went to an alarm panel that indicated the specific location on campus where the alarm was activated. At the same time, a passerby reported smoke coming from a wing at the rear of the school. Firefighters found heavy flames and smoke.

The fire was upgraded to a second alarm before it was extinguished about 2:30 a.m. Three classrooms suffered fire and smoke damage, and three others sustained only smoke damage, according to Sacramento Metro fire Capt. Chris Vestal.

“If you have heard or seen anyone talking about the fire, sharing details, or otherwise behaving in a way that leads you to believe they may have information, contact investigators immediately,” the Fire District said in a news release issued Wednesday.

Anyone with information pertaining to the fire is asked to call the Metro Fire Arson Hotline at 916-859-3775.

Just before 1:45 a.m. (April 6, 2017), a fire broke out in a classroom at James Rutter Middle School in South Sacramento, said Xanthi Pinkerton, Elk Grove School District spokeswoman. Due to the smell of smoke and less available space for students

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

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