UPDATED as of 2:25 p.m.
Tacoma firefighters have doused a small fire inside a staff kitchen at Lowell Elementary School in the North End.
The fire started just before 1:15 p.m. in the staff kitchen located inside a secondary building at the school, 810 N. 13th St. The blaze is not considered suspicious, fire department spokesman Joe Meinecke said.
Tacoma Public Schools spokesman Dan Voelpel said a staff member left a pan of oil on the stove after cooking french fries for lunch. The staff member is not a teacher.
Classes at the school – and all schools in the Tacoma School District – were cancelled today because of an ongoing teacher strike.
The kitchen-area sustained some damage. The building where the fire occurred also contains some primary-grade classrooms but whether those rooms were damaged by smoke was not immediately known.
The blaze caused an estimated $40,000 in damages, Meinecke said.
Grayson Warren, an eighth grader, was on the school’s playground with three of his friends when he noticed smoke coming from the building. He could hear the alarm sounding and saw a staff member running with a fire extinguisher.
“It got pretty big fast,” said Grayson, who went to Lowell.
One student reported seeing glass breaking. Another boy who was on the playground said he was scared.
The fire caused $40,000 damage.
News Tribune reporter Debbie Cafazzo contributed to this report.