San Diego

Fire Scorches Building Exterior at Franklin Elementary School, Appears Intentionally Set: SDPD

Investigators believe a fire that erupted at an elementary school in Kensington early Monday was intentionally set, according to police.

A neighbor called the San Diego Fire-Rescue (SDFD) after seeing flames at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School located on Copeland Avenue at about 5:40 a.m.

The fire started in a lost-and-found area outside the school's cafeteria and a Metro Arson Strike Team (MAST) determined the fire was set intentionally because there were no combustible materials nearby, San Diego Police Department (SDPD) Officer Alfonso Contreras said.

Materials inside the lost-and-found -- coats, lunchboxes and other miscellaneous items -- were burned and the fire scorched the exterior of the cafeteria, Contreras said. 

Parents arrived to drop off children at Benjamin Franklin elementary, part of the San Diego Unified School District, hours after the fire ignited and saw patrol vehicles and firefighters surrounding the campus' entrance. 

"When you turn the corner and you see police presence around an elementary school it can definitely give you pause and I think it still shocks me," Ben Hernandez, who lives nearby said. 

Hernandez said he heard the school's fire alarm blaring for about 30 to 40 minutes. 

Classes were not canceled but police and school officials were working to keep children out of the cafeteria area. Some students typically have breakfast in the cafeteria, but Monday would eat in classrooms, Contreras said. 

Police have not yet identified any suspects in the case. 

No other information was available.

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