Cleanup continues at Walla Walla school

After a fire Monday, officials aim to open Blue Ridge on time on Sept. 4.

Jeff Horner

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WALLA WALLA -- Cleanup at Blue Ridge Elementary is ongoing this week after a basement fire Monday morning near the school's kitchen that damaged part of the building and resulted in significant water and smoke damage.

The school remains closed until cleanup efforts and safety precautions are completed.

Families needing to register children for school at Blue Ridge, for the Head Start/ECEAP public preschool program or seeking back-to-school information will need to head to the district's Transportation Cooperative, 1162 Entley St. near Koncrete Industries off Rose Street and 13th Avenue.

The transportation co-op's number is 527-3019.

The cause of the fire, which was reported about 8:15 a.m. Monday, remains under investigation. The school's sprinkler system helped contain the blaze initially, while firefighters from the city of Walla Walla were assisted by College Place and Fire District 4 crews to contain it. The school's fire alarm system alerted staff to evacuate; no children were present at the time and no injuries were reported.

The district has been quick to respond, with work to repair Blue Ridge beginning the same day the fire broke out.

On Monday, Cascade Fire Sprinklers replaced and made repairs to the affected fire suppression system. Walla Walla Electric tested and reset the fire alarm system and is inspecting all Blue Ridge smoke detectors.

Renovation Specialists began demolition of the damaged structural areas. JRCC of Spokane installed fans to dry out the gym floor.

On Tuesday, Clean Home restoration of Walla Walla began chemically fogging the entire building to remove the smoke smell.

And this morning, Clean Home was starting to clean and disinfect the entire building. Renovation Specialists will begin construction to replace the damaged portion of the building. Work crews are to continue the clean up and repair process as needed to ensure the school is ready for use as soon as possible.

The district said the school should reopen in time for the first day of school Sept. 4.

An air-quality test is to be conducted before staff and students can return to the building, the district said in a news release.

Superintendent Mick Miller said the district has received tremendous support from individuals and businesses volunteering to help with cleanup at Blue Ridge to ensure the building is ready for children the first day of school.

"In difficult times like these we are reminded of what a special place Walla Walla is and how thankful we are for the continued support," Miller said in a statement.

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