SW Portland school building goes up in flames, no injuries repor - KPTV - FOX 12

SW Portland school building goes up in flames, no injuries reported

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A school in southwest Portland caught fire early Thursday morning, just two days after it welcomed students for the school year.

Portland Fire and Rescue crews responded to the blaze at Southwest Sherman Street and Southwest Water Avenue at 2:43 a.m., which firefighters said started as a dumpster fire before spreading to The International School.

The private elementary school is a Spanish, Chinese and Japanese language immersion school with 418 students.

Crews knocked down the fire, but not before one building’s electrical system was damaged. Water sprinklers helped minimize fire activity but also added to the destruction.

The school’s campus is comprised of several buildings, and the damage was contained to that single facility, which serves as classrooms for preschoolers. Their classes were canceled for Thursday, although students in Kindergarten through fifth grade had school as usual.

Students and parents paused on the way to class Thursday morning, taking a look at the damage and snapping photos.

“It looks really bad because I feel like I can see some wiring that has been broken,” fifth grader Sienna Hoff said.  “I just feel really sad that this happened.”

Parent Eunice Kim and her kids said they smelled it before they realized what happened.

“I didn't even notice until my kids smelled something and were like 'Why does it smell like campfire?’ It’s really sad,” she said as she dropped her children off at school.

The head of the school, Robert Woods, rushed down early Thursday morning along with other teachers. He said it would take a full day to fully assess the extent of the damage and decide whether classes for the roughly 100 preschoolers would resume Friday.

“We'll determine that as soon as we can and get back to the community with it,” Woods explained, adding that staff will take it one step at a time and rally together to support the teachers and students most affected.

"This is our home and like any home, when you have a problem, you pull together, you recover and you move forward,” he said.

Kim agrees, adding while any incident like this is a challenge, she is optimistic the school community will overcome it.

“The community here is fantastic,” she said. “I feel like we definitely have this community-oriented vibe going and there’s a lot of members who are very active in the school, so I’m sure we’ll pull through. It’s very unfortunate and we’re very sad, but I think we’ll do just fine.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation and firefighters have not said whether they suspect it’s suspicious or not.

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