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WLHS fire construction nears completion

Building will be fully operational Jan. 7


by:  KYLE BAILEY - A new roof lies underneath the construction tarps. Construction needed because of the Oct. 8 three-alarm fire at West Linn High School is nearing completion.

The West Linn-Wilsonville School District initially worked with Cooper Construction and has since switched to a larger general contractor, Todd Construction, to handle the magnitude of the project.

“The whole project is going quite well,” district Director of Operations Tim Woodley said. “It’s going to be somewhere in the $3 million range when we get done.”

Construction costs will come from capital expenses, not the general fund. The school district’s insurance is covered through the consortium Special Districts Association of Oregon. Woodley said the insurance company has been a good partner so far. The insurance company recently gave the school district $750,000 to help pay for construction costs, he added.

The weight room was returned to students in the middle of October and the auxiliary gym was returned for use Nov. 26. The main competition gym and the boys locker room were returned to use Dec. 17, just before winter break. The girls locker room was slated to open for use Dec. 26.

The kitchen, which received the bulk of the damage, will reopen Jan. 2. School buses will return for drop-off and pick-up at the rear of the building when students return from winter break on Jan. 7.

by: KYLE BAILEY - The main competition gym will be open for use Dec. 17.

How it happened

The fire occurred when a maintenance worker was welding outside of the building and an arborvitae caught on fire from a spark.

The flames then shot through an HVAC vent overhead. To access the flames, firefighters had to cut through the wall and the roof.

While there was no real structural damage to the building, multiple infrastructural issues were compromised, including mechanical, electrical and plumbing.

Wood beams were also charred by the flames and needed reinforcing.

A laundry list of electrical equipment, including the scoring equipment and sound system in both gyms, needed to be replaced.

The area primarily impacted by the fire was the roof above the kitchen between the auxiliary gym and the main gym. Smoke engulfed the entire building and water from the fire sprinklers and hoses penetrated down three floors.

The building’s fire alarm is fully operational; however, security guards remain on site when construction crews are working on the building so as to guard open doors and prevent students and community members from entering open construction sites.

by:  KYLE BAILEY - About a fourth of the auxiliary gym floor needed to be replaced. It was fully clean and operational on Nov. 26.

by: KYLE BAILEY - Construction workers are still working on the lower level hallway.

by: KYLE BAILEY - The kitchen machinery was salvaged, but the facility had to be gutted for workers to access the walls and to be cleaned. The kitchen ceiling, floor and walls required finishing and the kitchen machinery needed to be re-installed. The space will open for use Jan. 2.



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