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News / Clark County News

Classroom snake saved from fire at Woodland elementary school

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Local News Editor
Published: October 1, 2021, 4:21pm

Quick-acting school staff and firefighters prevented a terrarium fire from spreading inside a Woodland classroom Friday morning, saving the resident snake.

Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue crews were dispatched at 5:31 a.m. to North Fork Elementary School, 2250 Lewis River Road, after a school staff member discovered smoke inside the building and called 911, according to a news release from the fire agency.

Engine 29 from the Woodland fire station arrived seven minutes later. The crew began searching for the source of the smoke and discovered it was coming from a classroom, the news release states.

Wood chips had caught fire and were smoldering inside a terrarium that houses a snake. A heating device had been placed too close to the wood chips, according to Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue.

The damage was limited to the terrarium and surrounding materials.

Fire crews used fans to blow the smoke out of the building. Although the building is equipped with fire sprinklers, they did not activate because of the small size of the fire, the news release said.

“Our team was able to respond quickly and keep this incident small while our Community Risk reduction staff investigated the incident with the help of the Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office,” Fire Chief John Nohr said in the news release. “We are grateful for the positive safety culture and responsiveness of all of our school district partners. We will continue our work with all of our community partners, using examples like this, for ongoing fire prevention and safety efforts.”

A total of 12 fire personnel responded to the school, including three fire engines, one ladder truck and three chief officers.

Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue reminded people to use all appliances in accordance with the directions and manufacturer recommendations, keep combustibles at least 3 feet from heating devices, and regularly inspect all electric- or fuel-burning appliances and check smoke alarms or fire protection systems.

“We have a great team that is focused on safety and is always on the lookout for risks and hazards. We will use this opportunity to draw focus on the safe use of approved appliances with our entire team,” Woodland Public Schools Superintendent Michael Green said in the news release.