VIDEO: Backdraft causes explosion at Vancouver, WA school

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vancouver school fireVANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) —

Counselors will be on hand Monday for students affected by a massive fire that destroyed Crestline Elementary School.

Students at the school do not have classes Monday, and the school district is now scrambling to find places for all of the students.

The weekend fire grew to gigantic proportions early Sunday morning and burned down the entire main building of the school. A Vancouver Fire spokesman said it could be days before investigators will be able to determine the cause.

“I was just in tears,” said parent Kym Weldom. “I’ve been around this area for a long time and it’s just heart breaking.”

At first, when the fire alarm went off at 3:16 a.m. Sunday, only a single engine from Vancouver Fire was dispatched to the school at 13003 SE 130th Ave. But once they arrived and saw how quickly the flames were spreading, the fire was upgraded to three alarms.

More crews from Vancouver Fire arrived, and eventually dozens more firefighters came from East County Fire and Rescue, Clark County Fire and Rescue and Portland Fire and Rescue. They stayed back in a defensive mode as sections of the building collapsed and caused backdraft explosions.

One firefighter received a minor injury and was treated at the scene. No one else was hurt.

Fire crews stayed at the scene throughout the rest of the day to watch for flare-ups and hot spots. A day later, parts of the building were still smoldering.

“A lot of teachers are emotional because it’s kind of like their heart and soul, their life put into it,” said parent Jasmine Alayadhi.

Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Vancouver Fire Marshal and Vancouver Police Department’s arson task force are processing evidence at the school.

Several neighbors told FOX 12 they heard kids lighting fireworks on the school property late Saturday night.

“In fact one of the residents said they actually saw some kids lighting off fireworks,” said Crystal Sworden, who lives near the school.

Sworden said she told fire investigators who were going to look into it.

The Evergreen School District will be posting updates on the school’s website.

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