Smoke escaped from windows and doors at Peachcrest Elementary School on Oct. 6 as multiple DeKalb County Fire Rescue units responded to an afternoon fire there.
DeKalb County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief William Roberts said fire personnel “had a quick knock down of the fire.”
“Upon arrival, we [found] a small fire set in the lobby area of the school here,” Roberts said. “We had the units go in and check everything out. It looks like we’ve had some forced entry from some vandals, possibly. It’s hard to say at this time.”
“I think someone was in there and either deliberately or accidentally started a fire,” said Janet Reisenwitz, who has lived a block from the school since her family moved into the then newly developed neighborhood in the 1950s. “I think it’s malicious. I think a lot of kids go in there and destroy things. I believe it was children [or] young adults.”
Peachcrest Elementary has been plagued with vandalism since it was closed by the school district in 2011. Scores of window panes have been broken and then boarded up. Various rooms in the building have been ransacked.
Reisenwitz, who attended Peachcrest from grades one through seven, said she is heartbroken about the condition of the school.
“I’m just saddened by what it’s become,” Reisenwitz said. “It’s been deserted. They closed the school and right after that the break-ins started.”
Reisenwitz said she has witnessed “people coming and hanging out and staying in the school.”
“It’s dangerous,” she said. “It’s just not a safe place for anybody to be.”
Reisenwitz said she has called police several times about various incidents at the school.
“I’m very protective of this school,” she said. “It was my childhood.”
The fire is being investigated by arson investigators and school district police.
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