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Ferris High School evacuates after pop bottles explode

Spokane Fire Chief Bobby Williams talks to the media, as police secure Ferris High School on Wednesday. Two plastic pop bottles exploded, and students were dismissed after the second explosion out of an abundance of caution. (Jesse Tinsley)
Spokane Fire Chief Bobby Williams talks to the media, as police secure Ferris High School on Wednesday. Two plastic pop bottles exploded, and students were dismissed after the second explosion out of an abundance of caution. (Jesse Tinsley)

In a possible ploy to buy more study time during finals week, someone placed two pop-bottle bombs in a Spokane high school Wednesday.

The pop bottles exploded inside Ferris High School, prompting officials to evacuate the school.

“It is finals week,” said Terren Roloff, Spokane Public Schools spokeswoman. “They’ll have to make up their tests.”

A juvenile suspect was quickly identified and confessed to investigators, according to Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. The juvenile could face criminal charges, as well as financial restitution for the public safety response.

The first bottle blew up about 8:46 a.m. in a hallway. A couple hours later, a second device exploded in the school commons as emergency crews investigated the first bomb.

Brad Arleth, commander of the field operations bureau for the Spokane police, said he believes the intent was not to cause harm but to disrupt school for the day.

“They’re not causing damage,” he said. “They’re making a big noise.”

The school began evacuations after the second explosion, which happened just before 11:10 a.m.

Fire department technicians analyzed the chemicals and determined one was a strong acid, according to fire officials.

No one was seriously injured, but a janitor’s skin became irritated after cleaning up the chemicals and a school resource officer reported respiratory issues from inhaling the vapors, authorities said. Medics treated them at the scene.

Authorities believe household chemicals were mixed together and put in the 2-liter bottles. When the caps are put on, pressure builds in the bottles until they explode.

The Spokane Fire Department led the investigation. Officials believe it was an isolated incident, and school will be back in session today.



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