Fire destroys cafeteria at Oakland middle school

Crews are still inspecting an Oakland middle school to determine whether a suspected arson fire overnight damaged the school’s utilities, a schools spokesman said.

The cafeteria in Claremont Middle School was heavily damaged in a two-alarm fire reported at 1:49 a.m., fire officials said. The school is located at 5750 College Ave., near the Rockridge BART station.

Firefighters arrived quickly from the station next to the school and contained the fire to the cafeteria, according to the fire department. It was under control at 3:10 a.m.

There were signs of forced entry to the building, Oakland Unified School District spokesman Troy Flint said this morning. Police are investigating the fire as a possible arson.

Flint said while there was no structural damage to the school, the cafeteria was totally destroyed:

“It’s not going to be usable anytime soon.”

Oakland fire Battalion Chief Geoff Hunter estimated the damage at $1 million.

While school is closed today for President’s Day, the school district is still determining whether the middle school will be able to open Tuesday, Flint said.

Crews are checking if there was any damage to the school’s electric system or running water. If the utilities are undamaged, the school will likely open normally Tuesday and provide brown bag lunches in lieu of hot lunches.

A portable unit equipped with a kitchen could be brought to the school as soon as next Monday and the school could resume serving hot lunches, Flint said. No firefighters or civilians were injured in the blaze.