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Citrus Heights building torched during fire training had disturbing past

Metro Fire posted a video on social media showing a building at 6446 Sylvan Rd. being burned in a training exercise. // Image credit: Metro Fire

By Mike Hazlip—
An old building on Sylvan Road once at the center of controversy came down in flames as part of a training exercise Wednesday.

Metro Fire crews used a former Creative Frontiers elementary school building at 6446 Sylvan Road for the live fire training on March 3. The exercise focused on defensive fire control where crews work to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby structures or vegetation.

A short video released by Metro Fire shows flames consuming the structure until little is left of the former school building.

Creative Frontiers was embroiled in controversy after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against founder and principal Robert Benson Adams, leading to his arrest in 2011. Some parents rallied to his defense, but he later plead “no contest” to six counts of misdemeanor child molestation, according to a 2016 article in The Sacramento Bee.

He was subsequently sentenced to 364 days in a sheriff’s work project and three years probation, along with being “required to register for life as a sex offender,” the Bee report said.

Adams’ attorney had argued the allegations were motivated by parents who were behind in their tuition payments, CBS13 reported. The principal had been accused of molesting six female students between the ages of 4 to 8 years old, from 1998 to 2011. Authorities said he had touched his victims under their clothes at the school while they were sitting on his lap or lying down during nap time, according to news reports at the time.

According to a 2016 KCRA article, one woman who claimed to have been a victim said she planned to file a civil lawsuit against Adams, after felony charges were dropped as part of his plea agreement. Sacramento County court records show four civil cases involving Adams, all of which appear to have been settled and/or dismissed by 2018.

Creative Frontiers school closed in 2011 after more than three decades as an elementary and preschool. Citrus Heights Historical Society President Larry Fritz said prior to the location serving as a school, archived telephone book records show the property at 6446 Sylvan Road was home to Tom and Shirley Purinton as far back as 1960.

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