PARMA, Ohio — The Parma Fire Department battled a fire at the St. Anthony of Padua School in the 6800 block of State Road late Saturday morning, and officials now believe it was set on purpose.
The original 911 call came in shortly before 10 a.m.
"The call was placed by maintenance personnel who reported the fire to be in the basement of the structure and they were unable to enter the building due to the rapidly deteriorating conditions inside of the building," according to a press release from the Parma Fire Department.
Upon their arrival, firefighters reported "extremely heavy smoke conditions" from the basement and first-floor areas of the school building. Authorities say crews aggressively attacked the fire in the basement along with flames in several classrooms.
"The classrooms involved in the fire were located directly above the basement fire area," officials said.
Mutual aid was provided by fire departments from Seven Hills, Brooklyn Heights, Broadview Heights and Parma Heights.
"The aggressive and effective attack to the seat of both fire areas prevented the spread of the fire to additional areas and classrooms," Fire Chief Michael Lasky said, with video of the incident showing those on the scene saying the "body" of the blaze had been "knocked down."
The school was unoccupied at the time of the incident and nobody was hurt. However, investigators from Parma as well as the Ohio Fire Marshal's Office have determined someone set the flames intentionally and are classifying the fire as arson.
Anyone with knowledge on who may have caused the fire at the school is asked to immediately call either the fire marshal's tip line at (800) 589-2728, Cuyahoga County CrimeStoppers at (216) 252-7463, or Parma Police Det. Marc Krakan at (440) 887-7323. Potential reward money is available for any relevant information.
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Editor's note: Video in the player below was originally published in an unrelated fire story on Feb. 16, 2022.