Students evacuate Rutland Senior Secondary School Friday as smoke leaks into a hallway from a fire in a washroom.
Someone deliberately set fire to a toilet-paper dispenser in the boys washroom near the school gym about 10:15 a.m. The small blaze melted part of the floor, and smoke from the burning plastic filled the room and leaked into the hallways during the morning break.
"Everyone ran to see what it was," said student Morgan Delaronde. "Then the fire alarm was pulled and everyone evacuated outside for over an hour."
Everyone in the building filed out to Rutland Arena nearby and to the gym at Rutland Middle School next door at 10:25 a.m. Firefighters arrived quickly and confined the damage to the washroom. They set up large fans to vent the hallways.
No one was injured and the exodus was orderly. Paramedics led one girl away with a blanket over her.
"I know one girl fainted during the evacuation, but I'm not sure if that was from the fire or personal health issues," Delaronde said.
The alarm system kicked in, but the ceiling sprinklers stayed dry because there was too little heat, said Larry Paul, secretary-treasurer of the Central Okanagan school district. Staff let the kids back in at 11:40 a.m.
"That (washroom) area is closed off until we do an investigation, clean it up and get it operating," Paul said.
Fire officials estimate the smoke damage at $8,000. The ducting will need cleaning, the floor must be repaired and the ceiling requires a new coat of paint, said Platoon Capt. Laurie Serres of the Kelowna Fire Department.
RCMP are investigating the mischief complaint. A spokesman hadn't heard of any arrests by 4 p.m.
About 1,300 students and 200 staff attend the Grades 10-12 school. Some are writing mid-term exams. The Christmas break begins Dec. 21.