By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor
Sultan High School students were briefly evacuated on Friday due to a fire that began outside the school’s Vocational-Agriculture building.
The fire department received notification at approximately 12:50 p.m., with crews from both Snohomish County Fire District 5 located in Sultan and Gold Bar’s Fire District 26 responding. Students had been evacuated to the school’s athletic field by the time fire fighters arrived at the scene. No one was injured.
“At no time were any staff or students in danger,” said Sultan School District Superintendent Dan Chaplik in a statement on the school’s website.
The fire began in the school shop as a student was utilizing a piece of equipment which sparked, causing embers to get drawn up into the shop’s sawdust collection system. The system is used to pull the sawdust up and out of the room, depositing it into a containment device known as a hopper, which is located outside the building.
When the burning ember was drawn up into the system, it made contact with the sawdust and caught fire, producing excessive amounts of smoke. Because air is recirculated through the ducting system, a large amount of smoke began to enter back into the buildings.
“There was a lot of smoke because of all the sawdust,” said Fire District 5 Fire Chief Merlin Halverson.
Fire fighters were able to extinguish the flames in the hopper before they spread. Further efforts to put out the fire necessitated the removal of sections of ducting located in the room’s ceiling.
Students were returned to the school gym shortly after 1 p.m., and were soon cleared to return to their classrooms.
The shop building stayed closed for the rest of the day. The duct system will need repair.