On November 10, 2009 at about 11:40 a.m., Portland Fire & Rescue responded to a structure fire at Marysville Elementary School in SE Portland, Oregon. Within a matter of minutes, Portland Police assisted teachers and staff in evacuating all the children. Two adults were transported for minor smoke inhalation. No children were injured. All 460 students and 17 teachers were evacuated to the Holgate Public Library.
The fire spread rapidly through the structure and in the attic spaces. Portland firefighters used very aggressive tactics including "trench cuts" and interior operations in an effort to limit fire spread. Trench cuts, which are holes cut in the roof, spanned the entire attic space. Trench cuts direct fire and smoke out of the attic space instead of allowing the fire and smoke to spread throughout the entire structure. The aggressive attack on the fire allowed firefighters to save most of the building.
Approximately 100 firefighters were called to fight the fire. Also dispatched were four trucks, 12 engines, one heavy rescue, one rescue, and six chief officers.
Preliminary damage estimates include $2,750,000 in building damage and $1,500,000 in contents damage.
Clackamas Fire District #1 and Gresham Fire Department provided companies to respond to calls from Portland stations left vacant by crews at the scene of the fire.
INVESTIGATING THE FIRE
Portland Fire & Rescue investigators, along with agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, investigated the cause and source of the November 10th fire at Marysville Elementary School. They finished the on scene portion of the Marysville School fire investigation on November 14th and released the building back to Portland Public Schools.
Approximately 100 witness interviews were conducted along with two full days of digging and searching for the fire cause and origin. Fires of this magnitude are labor intensive and require extensive information gathering. This was a devastating fire that has deeply affected the community. While tremendous progress has been made, PF&R is unable to provide a fire cause at this time.
The fire remains under investigation.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Investigators are specifically asking for help in gathering photos of the Discovery Zone building. If you have photos of the Discovery Zone building taken within the last year (from the inside, outside, or from any angle) or you have any other information you feel would be of value to investigators, please contact (503) 823-3791. This phone number will be staffed from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or you can leave a message after hours and they will return your calls.
November 13, 2009