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In praise of fire drills

Our Opinion

Amid all the usual debates about what has gone awry in our community, sometimes it is important to pause and reflect on something that went right.

This week in particular, Portlanders should be thankful for the safe escape of all 400-plus students and 17 teachers who were inside Marysville K-8 School on Tuesday when a major fire broke out.

In the hours and days ahead, firefighters and school officials will have ample time to investigate exact causes of the fire and what needs to be done to prevent future incidents. The fact that there was a fire at all - especially one that caused such extensive damage - is evidence of matters that must be addressed.

Once you move past that underlying issue, however, it is hard to find fault with the actions taken by school officials, teachers, students, parents or firefighters either before, during or after the blaze.

The school, at 7733 S.E. Raymond St., held regular fire drills to prepare students for the possibility of an evacuation.

When the fire was discovered, students and teachers left the building in an orderly fashion - and school administrators stayed in the building until they were sure everyone had escaped. Firefighters and police arrived quickly to assist in critical decisions and to attempt to get the blaze under control.

Certainly, parents had their moments of panic when they first heard about the fire. But as far as we can tell, the school district did a good job of getting the word out that students and staff were safe and that they had been moved to the nearby Holgate Library.

Without cool thinking under pressure - and without the drills and other emergency preparations that this school had conducted so well - the story of Marysville Elementary could be much different, and much more tragic this week.

With just two weeks to go before Thanksgiving, the safe outcome at Marysville is something Portlanders can add to this year's list of reasons to be grateful.