A Ballard Boys and Girls Club (BBGC) van caught fire in front of North Beach Elementary (9018 24th Ave NW) at approximately 3:40 p.m. Thursday afternoon. The van caught fire outside the school as a BBGC staff member arrived to pick up students. No one was injured during the incident.
According to BBGC Operations, Program and Teen Director Alison Soike, staff member Dena noticed that the van smelled like smoke on her drive to pick up the students from North Beach Elementary. When she arrived, she turned off the van and opened the doors to air the van out. It was at this point that the van caught fire with large visible flames.
Dana was not hurt and no students were in or around the van when it burst into flames. All students were evacuated inside the building and into the back playground as 911 was called.
According to My Ballard reader Lisa Geisness, “Mr. Rhett Hartmann, the beloved P.E. teacher there, grabbed a fire extinguisher and emptied it on it (the van). Parent Mary Hayes had the foresight to have the Boys & Girls Club move a second van parked immediately in front of it to so help prevent it from getting involved. She also posted herself at the front entrance to prevent kids from wandering out there – she let them exit to the right (away from incident) with a parent.” Reportedly, the Principal was not on site at the time of the fire.
Two fire engines, Units E18 and E35, responded to the scene and extinguished the van. Soike revealed that the van was “a complete loss and caused damage to a few other vehicles.”
BBGC released a letter to parents this afternoon confirming the details of the incident and stated that child safety was their number one concern. “We wanted to give you all the facts so that you weren’t caught unaware if your child came home with a story. Please let us know if you have any questions and we will do our best to answer them,” wrote Soike.
We have contacted Seattle Fire Department for more information in relation to the cause of the fire and will update the post when more information is known.
Thank you to readers Tracey Frye, Patrick Trainor and Lisa Geisness for tips and photos.