Rottle Field fire investigation is continuing

MONTESANO — The cause of the fire that destroyed the grandstands of Jack Rottle Field is still “undetermined” but the investigation is ongoing, officials said Wednesday.

“We have a good sense of where the area of origin is, however, we are still investigating the cause,” said Montesano Fire Chief Corey Rux.

Late on Sunday night, Sept. 16, a fire broke out at the iconic, 1940’s era grandstands at Montesano High School. Firefighters were able to save the gymnasium next to the field but the grandstands, made of wood, were a total loss.

Friday night, the football team will play its first “home” game since the fire. It will be played at Stewart Field in Aberdeen. The school is hoping to be back at Rottle Field for its only other home game this year on Oct. 19, using temporary bleachers.

Fire investigators are now waiting for test results on samples taken from the scene and sent to forensic labs. Rux said he is investigating the fire, along with the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office, the Montesano Police Department and an independent investigative team hired by Montesano Junior-Senior High School’s insurance agency. Officials from the Montesano Police Department referred all inquiries about the investigation to Rux. Chief Criminal Deputy David Pimentel of the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office said, “We’ve allocated numerous resources to assist Montesano and this investigation.”

Since the fire, many rumors have circulated in the community as to the cause of the fire, particularly the question of whether it was a case of arson. Rux acknowledged the rumors, but declined to comment on them or publicly speculate on the cause of the fire or the course of the investigation.

“We have to see where the evidence is going to direct us,” he said.