Brookhaven, GA, July 4, 2017 – by Trey Benton – DeKalb County Fire Rescue (DCFR) is investigating a possible arson fire Tuesday morning at St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Brookhaven. Firefighters contained the fire to Claiborne Hall after they cut holes in the roof to provide ventilation, a technique used to keep the fire from spreading.
According to DCFR Battalion Chief DeJuan Gilchrist, the call came in around 6:30 AM and firefighters first on the scene found the building which contains the Science Lab under heavy fire and smoke. Firefighters were able to rescue as many of the animals in the Science Lab as they could, although several perished.
Chief Gilchrist said firefighters had to be careful not to disturb the scene as much as possible so that arson investigators could process it. “We put out the fire and made sure we didn’t contaminate the area…so that we can get a good [arson] investigation,” said Chief Gilchrist. He said a broken window and the initial amount of fire is what is raising suspicion the fire was deliberately set, although the final determination will be made by arson investigators.
While firefighters were able to control the blaze without substantial challenges, Chief Gilchrist said a hydrant on Ashford Dunwoody Rd. initially hooked in to did not produce the pressure they were looking for, causing them to hook in to another. He said he was not sure whether the school had a sprinkler system, but if it did, it did not engage.
DeKalb County Fire Rescue Investigators will continue to process the scene and determine if indeed arson was the cause of the fire.
Firefighters from four DCFR stations responded along with City of Brookhaven Police. Ashford Dunwoody Rd. was blocked in both directions between Peachtree Rd. and Windsor Parkway.
St. Martin’s Episcopal School is located at 3110-A Ashford Dunwoody Rd in Brookhaven.