South Bay high school snack shack burns in suspicious fire, parents vow to rebuild
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - A South Bay high school has suffered a $10,000 loss in what appears to be arson.
A newly-built snack shack, supporting baseball programs, was destroyed by fire at Branham High School.
The loss was distressing for fans and players at Tuesday evening's varsity game, but particularly for 2016 graduate Tanner Robson.
Robson, as a parting gift to his alma mater, built the shack as his Eagle Scout project.
"It's heartbreaking to see all this after all the time I've put into it," Robson told KTVU, surveying the charred structure.
He remembers planning, fundraising, organizing volunteers and building the space, enabling boosters to raise money selling merchandise and refreshments.
"From what I've heard, kids did it, and I hope they get caught soon," said Robson, "because this is a terrible thing that doesn't just affect Branham baseball, but the whole Branham community."
With just three homes games left, snacks and beverages are being sold at outdoor table.
"This is old school, like before we had our shack," smiled Sports Booster President Dan Seoane, "but we're doing well on sales, and actually had some people donate money just to help with the re-build."
Seonae says the vandals climbed a chain-link fence overnight and broke-up two plastic storage sheds, where they found a pickax.
They used the ax get into the snack shack, then started the fire in front of the door.
"It started in front of a metal door, maybe with an accelerant," explained Seoane, "and it went through the building and up fast, I watched the video."
The district declined to share the surveillance video, which shows a bright flash as the fire started, and climbed quickly through the roof.
Cameras also show three juveniles, two of them on bicycles, making their way across campus to Meridian Avenue, not appearing to hurry, even as the fire raged.
"We've had break-ins of other buildings, tagging on the place," lamented Seoane, "and it's destruction that doesn't need to happen. There are a lot of parents who put time and effort into making school enjoyable for their kids."
Branham baseball is wrapping up a losing season, but the loyalty of fans and families runs deep.
And by team tradition, win or lose, home game or away, Branham players go into the stands after the game to thank every spectator for being there.
It's that culture, that has Tanner Robson re-dedicating himself to getting the snack shack restored and running again.
"It's such a great atmosphere here, and they're always so giving and so caring," observed Robson, "so I just knew this was the right community to give to, and I made the right choice."
A fund has been set up to help rebuild the snack shack. You can find more information here.
In one day, it had already collected more than $1,500.