Arlington High School had an evacuation on Oct. 22 after a homemade explosive device was set off in a bathroom at the school.

The school was initially placed in a lock down after staff noticed a fire in the second floor of the D-Wing.

The school district made the decision to evacuate students and staff during the day and follow the school’s student reunification process.

The Snohomish County Regional Bomb Squad searched the school and no additional devices were located.

School resumed normally the next day.

A 16-year-old student is in custody for his involvement in the situation.

“We did conduct a search of the suspect’s residence and we did recover some additional evidence,” said Kristin Banfield, communications manager for the city of Arlington.

“This is still an ongoing investigation so there are not many details I can release,” she said.

There were no injuries because of the evacuation or the explosive device.

There was no major damage to the bathroom after it was cleaned of scorch marks, according to Gary Sabol, director of communications for the Arlington School District.

For both the city and the school district, this was the first time they had to perform an actual school evacuation.

“It’s one of those things where you prepare as much as you can, but until it actually happens you don’t really know how it’s going to go,” said Sabol.

Banfield said they have practiced an evacuation before, but haven’t had to perform a real one.

“When we really have to do it, you always learn about how to improve the process,” said Banfield.

The school district also holds drills at the school level and for district staff.

“We actually just had a drill for this just last month, so that helped a lot for everyone,” said Sabol.

He said that the evacuation and reunification went well considering that it was a new experience for most.

“I know many parents had to wait in line,” said Sabol. “They were patient and appreciative, they understood we were doing this for student safety."

Banfield also wanted to thank the community for their cooperation.

“We really appreciate the patience of the families during this event,” she said.

City staff plan to get together soon to talk about the response to the situation. 

“We’ll be sitting down to talk about the [evacuation] plan and possibly make some tweaks,” said Banfield.

“Hopefully we will never have to use this plan again, but if we do we’ll have it ready to go smoother."

Banfield also wanted to thank the high school janitor who found the initial fire and acted quickly to put it out.

“He was one of the first ones the scene and grabbed a fire extinguisher,” said Banfield.

“He got it out quickly … and at that point we didn’t know what we were dealing with,” she said.

The quick action helped prevent the situation from becoming worse for students and staff, she said.

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