The arson fire that destroyed part of Ashland High School's stadium on June 30 caused $400,000 in damages, most of which will be paid for by the district's insurance policy, the superintendent said Wednesday.

The arson fire that destroyed part of Ashland High School's stadium on June 30 caused $400,000 in damages, most of which will be covered by the district's insurance policy, the superintendent said Wednesday.

The district will pay a $50,000 deductible and the insurance company will cover the rest of the bill to rebuild that part of the 1921 stadium, Superintendent Juli Di Chiro said.

"I'm very relieved that it is salvageable," she said. "Building a new stadium would have been a big expense for the district."

District officials hope to begin the project next week and finish it in time for the football team's first home game in early September, she said.

Di Chiro hopes the School Board will grant the district an emergency exemption to the competitive bid process for the project, speeding up the rebuilding by about two months. She hopes to convene a meeting next week to discuss the matter with the board.

She asked the board to grant the emergency exemption at its Monday meeting, but the board opted to wait until the district had a report from an engineer specifying the extent of the damage.

"I'm not sure why we would need to move forward quickly in tight budget times," board member Keith Massie said at Monday's meeting. "Even spending $50,000 is a tough thing to do."

The exemption would mean local contractors would not have an opportunity to bid on the project.

"From the district's standpoint, that's the only potential downside," Di Chiro said.

If the exemption is granted, the insurance company will take over the rebuilding process, contracting with a company that specializes in fire restoration, she said. The district's insurance company is Property and Casualty Coverage for Education, through the Oregon School Boards Association.

The fire damaged about a third of the stadium, burning bleachers and leaving smoke and water damage.

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

A sprinkler system activated during the fire and likely saved the structure from complete destruction, fire officials said.

Days later, investigators determined the fire was the result of arson. Police are asking for help identifying suspects.

The day after the fire, the district posted 24-hour security guards on the campus, because fire officials were worried more fires might be set.

"The concern from the fire department was that, since it was arson, someone would return and try to finish the job," Di Chiro said.

The security guards were removed Tuesday, after the district installed a fence around the stadium, she said.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.