Aug. 08--A torch used during renovations to a commercial building that housed equipment for the Beaverton High School band sparked a two-alarm fire that heavily damaged the structure Thursday.
Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue announced Friday that the torch overheated a steel pipe, which at some point ignited nearby cardboard in the building in the 4500 block of Southwest Stott Avenue. The welding appeared to be related to work on the building's air conditioning unit, said Pete Scott, a fire agency spokesman.
Damages are estimated at $76,000.
Beaverton High School Principal Anne Erwin said there were no instruments in the structure, but there was equipment used by the color guard, winter guard and the marching band including props, tents, trailers and other supplies. It's still being determined what is salvageable, she said.
Heavy smoke was reported about 7 p.m., from the roof of the building between Beaverton High School and a Dairy Queen restaurant. More than two dozen firefighters responded to the scene and doused the fire about an hour later. Flames were contained to the building, which used to be the Recovery Club of Beaverton, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.
Macie Mackey, who owns the building and the nearby Dairy Queen, said Friday that the interior renovations were finished on Thursday and the air conditioning unit was being installed when the fire occurred. A technician from Hunter-Davisson, the company working on the unit, said he was outside the building when he saw smoke and soon called 911.
Mackey stood among the crowd of dozens of spectators outside Beaverton High School and watched as fire crews tore through the building roof and sprayed water inside.
"I have never experienced a fire and the entire scene was so surreal," Mackey said.
Also stored in the building was new seating for the Dairy Queen, which she said is planned to undergo its own renovation next week.
Wendy Owen of The Oregonian staff contributed to this report.
-- Everton Bailey Jr.
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