Hopwood fire possible arson


Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services units surround Building B of the old Hopwood Middle School campus. (KIMBERLY BAUTISTA)

A fire that engulfed multiple classrooms at the old Hopwood Middle School campus yesterday is believed to have been started deliberately, but the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services is still investigating the case to confirm that.

According to Hopwood principal Dr. Rizalina Liwag, she learned after speaking with DFEMS investigators that they believe that the fire that they extinguished at Hopwood’s Building B could have been intentionally set.

“So [DFEMS] believes that this is not just an ordinary fire and was probably triggered naturally. They believe that this was some kind of arson and that somebody is responsible for doing this,” she said.

After hearing that from DFEMS investigators, Liwag now plans to prioritize security for the campus, especially since repairs are underway soon.

“This was something that we need to really prioritize. We’re in the process of completing and turning in our purchase order to start the repair of the campus,” she said.

Liwag added that she, as principal, is saddened that someone would even consider committing such a crime.

“Its just so sad. We already have so many challenges and struggles with our temporary campus and then now I have to also oversee the old campus to make sure that it is safe and intact. We feel that we really need to take action sooner rather than later to ensure that the buildings are safe and this will not happen again,” she said.

Liwag said that she was called to the damaged Hopwood campus at about 4:15pm because of a report of a fire.

“I received a call that there were police officers and fire department over at the campus, stating that the campus was on fire, particularly our Building B. The call police received was from a concerned citizen,” she said.

Liwag explained that DFEMS first informed her that there was a bush fire behind Hopwood’s stage but further investigation led firefighters to the fire within Building B.

“There was a bush fire first behind the stage area. And then when fire department came, they found out that it was not just a bush fire behind the stage but there was also a fire inside the building,” she said.

DFEMS has yet to release an official statement on the incident.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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