Lakewood Elementary fire ‘heroes’ honored

LAKEWOOD — If they hadn’t risked their lives and thought outside the box, the Lakewood Elementary School building would have been lost.

  • Wednesday, August 27, 2008 12:00am
  • News
Lakewood School District Board of Directors Vice President Ellen Phillips

Lakewood School District Board of Directors Vice President Ellen Phillips

LAKEWOOD — If they hadn’t risked their lives and thought outside the box, the Lakewood Elementary School building would have been lost.

The five women and three men who fought the July 23 fire at the LES building were celebrated by the Lakewood School District and the Marysville Fire District Aug. 20.

Art Cooper and Jim Venturo were absent, but Angela Ramirez, Tracy Melton, Terri Virdell, Jamie Miller, Dawn Taylor and Justin Bradley were handed plaques and flowers in honor of their “hero” status.

To hear the moms and other community members tell it, though, receiving praise was the last thing on their minds at the time of the emergency.

Lakewood School District Superintendent Dennis Haddock noted that the LES building exterior, and four of its classrooms, suffered approximately $200,000 in damage from the fire. He reported the contractor’s estimate that two of the rooms should be ready for the first day of school Sept. 2, while the other two rooms, which sustained more damage, are scheduled to be completed Sept. 8.

“You think, ‘What would I do?’” said LES Principal Sheila Woods. “What they did was step up to the plate.”

“The consistent comment I heard from firefighters was that they could not believe that this building was not completely consumed by the fire,” said Fred Owyen, executive director of operations for the Lakewood School District. “We can credit the courageous actions of these community members with literally saving the building.”

Marysville Fire District Chief Greg Corn credited the eight “heroes” with ingenious thinking, for breaking LES building windows to retrieve the fire extinguishers within, which they used to fight the fire.

“I don’t think we would have thought of that,” Corn said, before joking, “I hope the school district forgives them for breaking in those windows. This is one time when vandalism was acceptable.”

At the time of the fire, two of the women had been walking laps around the track, while the other three were watching their sons’ football camp. As soon as they spotted smoke coming from the LES building, all five ran toward it.

“That school is a part of my family,” Dawn Taylor said. “It’s a part of our history. I don’t know what made me think to yell that we should break the windows. I’m just bossy by nature,” she laughed.

Jamie Miller hadn’t seen the post-fire interior of the LES building until the slideshow of photos that was presented during the ceremony, and she was shocked by the extent of the damage.

“I thought we did better,” Miller said. “It was pretty emotional for me to see those pictures. I’m glad we were able to keep the fire down.”

Angela Martinez felt nervous and overwhelmed by the ceremony, but she dismissed her response to the fire itself almost casually.

“It’s what everybody else would have done,” Ramirez said. “We just happened to be the ones who ran over there.”

More in News

Lions Clubs ‘Give Big for Health’ White Cane Days on Giving Tuesday

Undeterred by COVID, clubs fundraise online for vision, hearing and health screening programs

Inslee: Stay home for 2 weeks

By Jerry Cornfield and Zachariah Bryan The Herald OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay… Continue reading

Fences have been put up around Marysville playgrounds to keep kids off. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville leaders concerned as (almost) everything’s closing

By Steve Powell MARYSVILLE – Within hours of Gov. Jay Inslee’s… Continue reading


Beware of coronavirus scams SEATTLE – U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran is… Continue reading

Jennifer Thompson, left, and her father Ron Thompson secure a new remembrance plaque to the Oso slide site gate on Sunday, near Oso. Ron Thompson handcrafts a new plaque for the gate every year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Community remembers Oso slide victims, survivors

By Ben Watanabe The Herald OSO — The power of remembering the… Continue reading

People gather to pick up special allergy meals before leaving Lakewood High School on Wednesday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Districts taking meals to students since schools are closed

By Stephanie Davey The Herald LAKEWOOD — Children wearing pajamas stood outside… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Letter about coronavirus from Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring

This is an edited version of a letter Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring… Continue reading

DOUGLAS BUell/Staff Photos                                Lead cook Keina Gowins with Presidents Elementary hands out free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to students and parents outside the school Wednesday. Presidents and AHS serve as central kitchen sites for preparing meals, which starting next week will expand to 12 delivery sites from Silvana to Oso. Right, Arlington Food Bank executive director Carla Gastineau and Mike Simpson, food bank board president and owner of Arlington Grocery Outlet, partnered with the district with their Meals Til Monday program, and gave a woman a box of donated food while at Presidents.
Arlington students won’t go hungry during the COVID-19 school closures

ARLINGTON – Arlington schools are closed through April 24 to help fight… Continue reading

Scott Beebe hands out Chromebooks to people in their cars. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville parents anxious to pick up school materials for kids

By Steve Powell MARYSVILLE – A few days ago Marysville schools… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Marysville leaders’ trip to D.C. productive

MARYSVILLE – City leaders recently obtained advice on how to get more… Continue reading

Crews will blow garbage into the street and sweep it up over the next few weeks. The city is asking people to move their cars, trash cans and recycle bins when they come around to help them do a thorough job. (Courtesy Photo)
Marysville shuffles workers due to virus, seeks public’s help for sweepers next week

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe. MARYSVILLE – From working from home to teleconferencing… Continue reading