Old Maple Falls school to be used for practice burn May 4


MAPLE FALLS - Community members can watch a school go up in smoke over pancakes Saturday, May 4, as firefighters use the old Maple Falls elementary school for a practice burn.

Firefighters from Whatcom County Fire District 14 will set fire to the school, 7849 Silver Lake Road, in order to train.

Set up will start at 8 a.m., around the same time that the Mount Baker Lions Club will offer a free pancake breakfast outside the school for community members and former staff and students of the school. People are encouraged to come to the pancake breakfast and share memories and stories about the school, which had been open from 1931 until 1999, when the new Kendall Elementary school opened, Mount Baker Superintendent Charles Burleigh said.

The district had been trying unsuccessfully for a number of years to find someone who could use the building, Burleigh said. The building had become "an eyesore right in the middle of the Maple Falls community," and was a safety concern because it has been unoccupied, he said.

Over winter, hazardous materials such as asbestos were removed from the school, and the RE Store removed usable materials.

Though the firefighter training will be limited because of all the asbestos removal, District 14 Chief Jerry DeBruin said it was still a good opportunity to practice working with a live fire. Crews will be able to practice their exterior work, work with hoses and water relay, and practice accountability and command systems.

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com. Read her school days blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/schools or follow her on Twitter at @bhamschools.

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