Faulty janitorial equipment likely caused Saturday’s fire that heavily damaged Strawberry Vale Elementary.(Photo courtesy Tamara Pillipow)

Faulty janitorial equipment likely caused Saanich school fire

Saturday morning fire damaged roof of Strawberry Vale Elementary

Portions of a Saanich elementary school may not reopen for use until after the official start of school following a Saturday fire likely caused by faulty janitorial equipment.

“Damage is extensive, costs will be extensive and depending on the school district’s [plan], it will certainly put that portion of the building out of use for sometime, may be into the start of the school year,” said Dan Wood, deputy fire chief with the Saanich Fire Department Sunday afternoon, when asked about the investigation into the fire that tore through the roof of Strawberry Vale Elementary.

The fire started Saturday morning with the primary damage in the school’s roof area, along with some smoke and water damage to the entry area of the building, said Wood.

While Wood could not put a final value on the damage, the investigation into the fire points towards the failure of a charging station for a mobile vacuum as the likely cause.

RELATED: UPDATED: Saanich firefighters investigate early morning fire at elementary school

“It was a spare battery being charged in the charging station,” he said. Either the battery failed or the charging station failed, he added. “That hasn’t been determined yet, but that was the likely cause of the fire. It subsequently burned some combustible material on the wall. That then carried up the wall and activated the fire sprinklers.”

But part of the fire made it past the sprinkler system, because of roof’s open-concept architecture, he said. “It [the roof area] is mostly left open and it was all combustible material. That is where he took off and burned through the roof area.”

It is not clear how many other pieces of comparable equipment the school uses. “Likely the school district is looking into that now,” he said. “They [school board officials] were on scene as well early in the morning. I’m sure they will be doing a full review of their equipment or any of their electrical appliances they are currently using in the school and making sure that fire suppression systems are tested and in full operation.”

Wood is also encouraging individuals to check any of their personal electrical equipment as lithium batteries have a history of over-heating, depending on the manufacturer.

Wood said the fire could have been a lot worse, given the time, as crews responded just after 4 a.m. “It was just fortunate that there were some passerbys that were noticing the heavy flames coming from the roof out of the skylight and informed the department,” he said.

Crews arrived within five minutes, he added. Three engines, a ladder and a rescue vehicle with a total of 18 firefighters responded, he said. “We did a good job,” he said.


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich landfill gets used oil and antifreeze dropoff centre upgrades

BC Used Oil Management Association oversees upgrades, two new facilities in province

Colwood man to ride 400 kilometres to fight kids cancer

Man riding for a beloved family member who died from leukemia at 13-years-old

Saanich woman completes 10 marathons, raises double her initial goal amount

Over $20,000 raised for Victoria Hospitals Foundation

UPDATED: Missing 25-year-old Saanich woman found Saturday

Yuhan Jin thought to be travelling by foot or bus, carrying two suitcases

Victoria program helps businesses shift swiftly in wake of COVID-19

Bring Back Victoria helps businesses open patios, create welcoming, safe spaces for customers

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

Travel restrictions inspiring co-operation in border communities

Small border towns are asking for exemption to travel ban

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

Woman arrested near Nanaimo beach after alleged road rage incidents

37-year-old woman facing charges including assault, assaulting a police officer, impaired driving

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Leave your deets when dining: Restaurants taking personal info to trace COVID-19

Health officials say indoor dining presents a higher risk

Raptors kneel for both American and Canadian anthems ahead of tipoff

Majority of players have substituted their names on the backs of their jerseys with racial and social justice messages

Most Read