Investigators have determined a fire that charred a large section of the bleachers at Ashland High School's football stadium Wednesday night was the result of arson.

ASHLAND — Investigators have determined a fire that charred a large section of the bleachers at Ashland High School's football stadium Wednesday night was the result of arson.

Ashland police now are asking the public to help identify a suspect, according to Margueritte Hickman, Ashland Fire Department division chief and fire marshal.

Ashland Police Chief Terry Holderness said the department suspected it was the work of an arsonist at the time of the fire call.

The department would not comment on specific aspects of the investigation that led investigators to determine the fire was intentionally set.

Ashland Fire & Rescue responded to the fire at 10:21 p.m. on June 30 and discovered 7-foot flames shooting from the north end of the bleachers.

The fire caused heavy damage to the stadium, Hickman told the Ashland Daily Tidings.

Hickman said the fire damaged about one third of the seating area. The activation of the fire sprinkler system helped control the fire before the arrival of firefighters, who battled the blaze until around 10:35 p.m. before gaining full control. Fire crews monitored hotspots that flared up until midnight.

Flames reached part of the locker rooms beneath the stadium, but did not significantly damage the area containing football memorabilia from more than 50 years ago, Ashland High School football coach Charlie Hall said.

Hall told the Ashland Daily Tidings the stadium fire won't delay the football season.

A structural engineer will assess the damage from the fire in the next couple of days and the district likely will decide next week how the stadium will be repaired or rebuilt. The district has insurance on the stadium that is expected to cover some of the costs related to the blaze.

The fire was the third blaze Ashland Fire & Rescue responded to on Wednesday — the day before fire season started — but investigators do not believe any of the fires are related.

Anyone with information that could be helpful to investigators is asked to call Oregon State Police detectives at 541-776-6111.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.