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Cascade Elementary portable burns; overheating printer named likely suspect

The Aug. 31 fire at Cascade Elementary did approximately $250,000 in damage to a classroom portable. - Kirk Boxleitner
The Aug. 31 fire at Cascade Elementary did approximately $250,000 in damage to a classroom portable.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — An overheating printer has been deemed the most likely suspect in an Aug. 31 fire that took out one of the classroom portables at Cascade Elementary, according to Thomas Maloney, division chief and fire marshal for the Marysville Fire District.

At approximately 2:33 a.m. Aug. 31, the Marysville Fire District was dispatched to a commercial fire in the 5200 block of 100th Street NE. Firefighters arrived at 2:41 a.m. and located a fire in a classroom portable at Cascade Elementary. Firefighters initially were impeded by down power lines which did not allow firefighters to attack the fire through the door. Instead the firefighters had to cut openings in the wall of the portable to enter the structure to extinguish the fire. The fire was brought under control within 20 minutes, by more than 13 firefighters with mutual aid from Snohomish Fire District 22 of Getchell, and no injuries were reported.

The fire dollar loss is approximately $250,000 and the fire itself is being investigated by the Snohomish County Fire Marshal's Office. Maloney explained that the cause of the fire has not been confirmed officially, but the Fire Marshal has ruled out "suspicious" incendiary sources, thereby making it an accidental fire by default. Although an insurance investigation will test the printer in question, Maloney reported that the classroom teacher had purchased a new printer, which "appears to be the focus" of the source of the fire.

"It could have been left on, or it could have just malfunctioned," Maloney said. "Mechanical equipment is not perfect."

Marysville School District Superintendent Dr Larry Nyland acknowledged that the portable is "totally destroyed," but noted that none of the surrounding portables were affected.

"The staff is already pulling together to support the teacher who's impacted, by moving their supplies into another classroom portable in time for the start of school Sept. 8," Nyland said. "The staff has taken it really well. The situation is not good, but fortunately, it should only affect one classroom, possibly two."

Nyland thanked firefighters for their "timely response" and pointed out that the school district has "one or two" open portables left, although whether one of those is moved to Cascade Elementary will depend on the expenses associated with doing so, versus the expenses associated with accommodating those students in one of the portables already on site.

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