WLHS freshman found fire in bathroom

Travis Whitehead, freshman, had an unusual start to his English class last Friday. After Whitehead was excused to go to the bathroom, he noticed something was out of the ordinary.

“I walked into the bathroom and it felt a bit hotter than usual and it smelt strange,” Whitehead said.

That’s when Whitehead noticed something underneath the third stall.

“There was a gray liquid burning underneath the stall closest to the wall,” Whitehead said. “From what I could see, the flames were a couple feet off the ground.”

Whitehead immediately went back to his class and told Sue Raivio, English teacher, about the fire. As she called for help, Whitehead also ran down to the office to find help with the fire.

“I thought it was kind of cool that I was the person who found it, but I knew it wasn’t good,” Whitehead said.

Bill Ray, head custodial engineer, and Claude Koch, custodian, then went to try and tame the fire as the school was evacuated. Three police cars, two fire trucks, and an ambulance were out front by the time all 1,510 students were evacuated from the building. Ray and Koch were able to keep the fire under control by the time the fire fighters arrived. Koch was taken to the emergency room at Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center to treat smoke inhalation. He had breathed in too much smoke while putting out the fire with a fire extinguisher.