Feb. 21 fire was caused by faulty warming oven, prompting investigation

The kitchen at Five Oaks Middle School is closed while equipment is cleaned, replaced and tested after trace levels of mercury were found in the wake of a Feb. 21 fire.

After contacting the manufacturer of the oven, which hasn’t been used since the fire, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue personnel notified the Beaverton School District there was a switch containing mercury in the area of the fire. A certified industrial hygienist collected samples from the kitchen and oven to test for mercury and found trace levels of the compound near the flashpoint of the fire and in the oven itself. Based on testing results, the hygienist reported the levels proved minimal risk to students and staff, but recommended additional cleaning and further testing to eliminate residual traces of mercury.

While work is being completed this week, the following steps are being taken to ensure the safety of staff, students and visitors to the school:

  • The kitchen will be closed while the ovens are removed and hazardous materials. It won’t be reopened until tests confirm there is no safety risk for staff and students.

  • Meals will be prepared off site and served in the cafeteria until the kitchen reopens.

  • Following additional testing, staff and students will be informed of potential health risks based on a written opinion from a qualified toxicologist.

  • All similar-model ovens from this manufacturer will be retrofitted within the month to eliminate mercury containing controls.

  • Contract Publishing

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