Crime

Pair of fires in Sehome High bathrooms suspected as arson

A garbage can melted in a suspected arson at Sehome High School on Thursday afternoon, Feb. 4, 2016. It was the second fire in a school bathroom in three hours.
A garbage can melted in a suspected arson at Sehome High School on Thursday afternoon, Feb. 4, 2016. It was the second fire in a school bathroom in three hours. The Bellingham Herald

Two garbage can fires were discovered in bathrooms at Sehome High School within a few hours of each other Thursday, Feb. 4.

Firefighters suspect arson.

A fire alarm went off around 10:45 a.m. in a boy’s bathroom on the east side of campus, leading to a full evacuation of the school, said Bellingham Assistant Fire Chief Bill Hewett.

Staff put out the fire with an extinguisher. Damage was minimal, other than a melted plastic garbage can, and students were let back into the school about a half-hour later.

Around 12:15 p.m. someone saw smoke and fire in a garbage can — filled with pieces of tissue paper — in the girls’ bathroom closest to the main office. Students again filed out of school buildings. A police officer pulled the flaming garbage away from the wall and put it out with a fire extinguisher, Hewett said.

“It definitely appears intentionally set,” Hewett said.

A faint acrid smoky smell lingered outside a main hallway as firefighters ventilated the building. Students returned to sixth period around 12:50 p.m. Again, there was no serious damage to the building, and minutes later the bathroom was open again.

No one was hurt at the school, but firefighters said it easily could have been worse had the fire spread.

“We take this situation very seriously,” Hewett said.

No suspects have been identified.

Anyone with information about how the fires started is asked to call the Bellingham Police Department at 360-778-8800. After hours, call 911.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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