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Coach and Athletic Director

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Posted September 6, 2011

Fire Consumes $100K Of High School's Football & Baseball Equipment

Shelton High School's football and baseball practice gear and equipment-- amongst other items totally approximately $100,000 -- were lost in Sunday's early-morning fire that destroyed the school's sports complex built by three students as part of their senior projects.

Shelton athletic director Jim Judson said Monday it’s too early to have an exact count of what was lost in the fire, but all of the football program’s blocking sleds, sled pads, dummies, cones, and numerous footballs were lost, in addition to the 100 shoulder pads.

Judson said all of the football program’s game-day gear – including helmets, pads, and uniforms, etc. – was not damaged; it was being stored inside the school’s Mini Dome at the time of the fire.

The baseball program’s practice gear and equipment was also lost in the fire, including bats, batting helmets, and 100 dozen baseballs. The game-day gear was not lost in the fire. Like the football game-day gear, the baseball program's game-day gear was being stored in the high school's gymnasium.

“Emotions are really raw right now,” Judson said. “It’s more emotionally draining than anything.”

The fire came less than 48 hours following the football team’s 69-6 season-opening loss to North Thurston on Friday night at Highclimber Stadium. The Highclimbers (0-1) continue non-league play this Friday against Black Hills at Tumwater District Stadium.

Three baseball players – Colton Twiddy, Joe Strand and Forrest Peterbaugh – spent much of their summer building the complex as part of their senior projects. The complex, which was about 80 percent complete prior to Sunday’s fire, was set to be a multi-use facility -- a combination of a press box, dugout, concession stand, offices for baseball, as well as storage units for baseball, fastpitch, football and tennis.

Shelton football coach Matt Hinkle said his team had a “pretty good” practice Monday afternoon, as his team shifts its focus to Black Hills later this week. Of the three students who built the facility, Strand also plays football in addition to baseball.

“We focused on what needed to be done,” Hinkle said. “We’ll be able to replace that stuff. I feel sorry for those kids in particular. It’s disappointing this puts a crummy light on Shelton.”

Firefighters from Mason County Fire District 5 arrived shortly before 5 a.m. Sunday to find the 2,400-square-foot building in flames. The fire was quickly put out, but not fire crews found another small fire some 50 yards away.

Tim McKern, chief of Mason County Fire District 5, said the two fires are “definitely arson” after crews discovered all the doors to the building were kicked in and a 5-gallon gas can was missing.

Little could be done to save the two-story building, designed by Shelton baseball coach Erik Engstrom, who works in construction. The total amount of damage to the building and its contents topped $300,000.

Wednesday is the first day of school in the Shelton School District, and Judson said talks will begin about whether insurance will pay for the damages, in addition to setting up funds to replace the equipment and construction of a new sports complex.

“I know there’s interest out there to support us,” Judson said. “We need to look how we can embrace such support and how we’re going to recover from it. … We can begin the healing process of getting it back under construction.”

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