Questions I had about school fire – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Questions I had about school fire

Written April 6th, 2015 by Hasso Hering

South on Easter 004

He's keeping an eye on the fire- and-now-construction site on Sunday.

He’s keeping an eye on the fire-and-now-demolition site on Sunday.

Ever since last week, when a man was arrested in the arson fire at South Albany High School on Wednesday, I’ve been wondering about a couple of things. How did a fire in a Dumpster, reportedly started by tossing a lighted cigarette into it, burn down a whole building with what appear to be concrete walls? And why didn’t sprinklers keep the flames from spreading or at least slow them down?

I talked about this with Albany Fire Chief John Bradner on Monday afternoon. Here’s what I learned.

It’s been reported that the suspect in the fire told police that he tossed a cigarette into a waste container at the building. The container was at or near the south wall of the structure. Heavy scorch marks visible from the parking lot appear to indicate the spot.

Flames and heat from the burning debris apparently reached and ignited the wide overhanging wooden eaves directly above, and from there the fire spread across the wooden structure holding up the metal roof.

As for the sprinklers, only the stage area inside the building was thus equipped. And in any case, sprinklers don’t help if they are underneath the part of the roof that’s burning.

By the way, given the reported origin of this fire, when nosing around the campus on Easter Sunday I was a little surprised, to spot a Dumpster close by the wall of another building, directly under the wooden eaves. (hh)

A Dumpster below, wooden eaves above.

A Dumpster below, wooden eaves above.

4 responses to “Questions I had about school fire”

  1. Ted Salmons says:

    I’m sure that by the end of the month, there will be voluminous new rules concerning dumpster safety and placement guidelines. The normal knee-jerk reaction that won’t solve anything.

  2. Dave Jones says:

    Those “new” rules already exist and have for years. Such as dumpsters under the roof eaves.

  3. Jennifer Moody says:

    Hey, Hasso. We asked the same questions. Some of the answers will be explored in more detail in a story I’m working on this week. The facilities folks said for what it’s worth, they likely will be moving Dumpsters, but on the other hand, Dumpsters are portable, so someone intent on doing harm might still be able to simply move them right back. Anyway, story coming.

  4. Charlie Eads says:

    Maybe they need to be emptied more often.


Cycle around town!
Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved. Hasso Hering.
Website Serviced by Santiam Communications
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!