Explosion closes Blaine schools
Students at Blaine High School will not return to class Monday, Oct. 3, as the school district works to restore power after an explosion in the school’s electrical room Wednesday night.
The explosion knocked two large metal panels out of place and severely damaged the walls in the room, which in turn caused damage to the adjacent classrooms. It also left the school without power and disrupted the computer and phone network for the rest of the district.
The communications outage led to a day of canceled classes across the district on Thursday.
“It didn’t make sense to have 2,000 students here when we couldn’t communicate,” Tina Padilla, the district’s administrative assistant, said Friday.
All district schools, except the high school, returned to class on Friday, she added.
The district had begun to look for other locations to hold class until power was restored. But Padilla said Friday afternoon that they were more likely to simply wait for power to be restored, which could come as early as the middle of next week.
“It’s starting to look like repairs and restoration would happen faster than we thought,” Padilla said. “If that ends up working out, it wouldn’t be worth moving to another location.”
Crews also were working Friday and were scheduled to work through the weekend on repairs to the walls that the explosion damaged.
Though Monday’s high school classes are canceled, Padilla couldn’t say with certainty that Tuesday’s would be, too. The fate of Tuesday’s classes would likely be clearer by around noon Monday, she said.
“We’re just taking it day by day at this point,” Padilla added.
Parents and students can check the district website’s homepage, blaine.wednet.edu, for the latest information on classes.
Students across the district will need to make up Thursday’s missed classes at the end of the year, Padilla said. But the district intends to ask the state Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction to waive the days of classes that were missed only by the high school students, she added.
Henry Hollander, division chief for North Whatcom Fire & Rescue, said the school district has hired engineering specialists to investigate the cause of the explosion. The explosion was unique in that it didn’t leave behind the usual remnants, like burned wood.
“Everything you see with a typical explosion, you don’t see with this,” he said.
The room where the explosion occurred was “one of many issues” that the school district had tried to address with bond issues that extended back about 10 years, Padilla said. Voters approved the $45 million bond for renovations in February 2015.