Saanich residents watched in shock as the roof of an elementary school went up in flames early Saturday morning.
“My daughter comes into the bedroom and says ‘Hey the school is on fire.’ We go out on to the deck, the flames were well above the skyline there,” said witness Gary Mason.
Saanich Fire arrived at Strawberry Vale Elementary around 4:30 a.m. and quickly doused the flames, putting out the fire.
“We had three engines, a ladder, and a heavy rescue, and 18 firefighters attend and upon arrival found heavy flames and smoke coming from the roof area,” said Saanich Fire Department Deputy Chief Dan Wood. “We worked quickly to confine the flames to the roof area.”
Fortunately, no one was injured in the fire as the school was unoccupied in the Summer months.
Investigators were quickly on the scene and have determined the damage was caused by an electrical fire, sparking from a vacuum battery charging station.
“The lithium battery pack charging station burst into flames and caught part of the pony wall on fire, which extended up beyond the sprinklers into very heavy timber and heavy open web truss roof system,” said Wood.
Fire crews say the building will need extensive repairs with heavy smoke and water damage.
Right now, there is no timeline given on when the building will be fixed, but Saanich fire says there is a possibility it could impact the beginning of the school year, depending on how fast the School District can start mending the damage.
COVID-19 has already impacted students’ classroom time, and many parents hope it will be a quick turn around, allowing students to go back to school in September.
“It’s going to be devastating to the kids that go to this school,” said Mason.
Saanich Fire is emphasizing the importance of visually inspecting and monitoring cordless, electrical appliances when they are left to charge.