BELLINGHAM - Sehome High School was set to open Wednesday, Feb. 27, after the school was closed Tuesday due to a power outage from a blown transformer.
The transformer exploded at about 11:55 p.m. Monday and started a small fire in an outbuilding of the school. The power was out for much of Tuesday, and classes were canceled.
Puget Sound Energy crews and electricians worked into Tuesday evening running new lines and installing a new transformer to restore power to the school. Because heat was expected to be restored later in the evening, the district advised students to wear warmer clothes to school Wednesday.
Lights in the parking lots around the school flickered and shut off without warning just before midnight Monday. Custodian Nikolay Shkurat, working his regular night shift, heard crackling and pops coming from a couple hundred feet away for the next few minutes.
Suddenly, a loud boom echoed through the neighborhood.
"No flames, no nothing," Shkurat said. "Just loud."
Everything went dark. He looked up to see heavy dark smoke pouring from the boiler room, a 30-by-30-foot brick building on the east side of the school, adjacent to Voltaire Court.
A three-alarm response from the Bellingham Fire Department got scaled down within minutes after the first firefighters forced open the boiler room door and put out the flames coming from one of the school's three transformers.
All three transformers are needed to power the school.
Streetlights on Samish Way were briefly knocked out. Part of a nearby apartment complex on Ferry Avenue lost power, too.
The interior of the boiler building took some smoke damage. Other than the one transformer, however, nothing seemed to have been touched by flames.
"That's why they put 'em in brick buildings like this," said Bellingham Fire Battalion Chief Chuck Henkel.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The school had to close for a day for a power outage in September 2008, after a failure in an underground cable that supplies power to the school.
District staff members are still discussing whether Sehome students will have to make up a day for Tuesday's cancellation.