South Whidbey Fire/EMS crews faced heavy smoke Wednesday attacking a fire that broke out in a classroom science laboratory behind a rural Langley home. No injuries were reported.(Photo provided)

South Whidbey Fire/EMS crews faced heavy smoke Wednesday attacking a fire that broke out in a classroom science laboratory behind a rural Langley home. No injuries were reported.(Photo provided)

Science learning lab damaged in fire

Leonard Good’s workshop saved but not his vast collections

Science educational materials used by generations of students were destroyed Wednesday when the Langley classroom laboratory of Leonard Good partially burned in a fire.

Facing challenging conditions, firefighters from South Whidbey and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island spent several hours suppressing the fire that broke out in a small workshop located behind Good’s residence on Nancye Lane.

No injuries were reported.

“Crews did a great job containing and putting out the fire,” said South Whidbey Fire/EMS Deputy Chief Wendy Moffatt. “We were able to save part of the structure.”

Good, 80, is a longtime science educator known for his innovative classes and summer rocket-building mini-camps that he launched some four decades ago.

He still leads a science program at South Whidbey Schools through grant funding. Years ago, he also turned his home workshop/laboratory into a classroom to teach young kids about the wonders of physics, chemistry and astronomy.

“At about 11:15 a.m. Wednesday morning, I saw smoke coming from where Leonard had just taught a student from 10 to 11 a.m.,” said Leonard’s wife, Linda Good. “They had both just left.”

When Leonard returned from errands, his far-flung property teemed with fire engines, a tanker truck and other rescue vehicles. The residence is located one-half mile up a hill at the end of Nancye Lane that borders the Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club.

“Flames were coming out of the roof,” Leonard Good said. “That was very unnerving.”

Firefighters were hampered by inaccessibility and lack of water. They set up a portable pool and filled it with water from the tanker.

Much of the damage occurred in the roof and in the small storage attic, Good said, but firefighters kept the fire from penetrating the walls.

A crew from NAS Whidbey was summoned in case there were hazardous chemicals involved.

Good said he takes precautions when storing any chemicals and no explosions occurred. However, many science supplies stored in plastic containers melted in the heat. Workshop counter tops had been filled with glass beakers and other fragile equipment used for science experiments — now mostly shattered.

Perhaps most heartbreaking for the perennial man of science and flight is losing his longtime model airplane collection. The planes hung around his workshop, providing swings of color among the chrome and glass.

“I loved those model planes,” said Good. “I had a big bi-plane with an 8-foot wing span. It burned completely. All of it, disappeared.”

Good’s collection of model airplane magazines from the early 1940s also took a soaking. He’s now spreading them around the house to dry.

“It was just full of neat junk,” he said of the 30-feet-by 15-feet workshop his brother in law built some 30 years ago.

“It was an electrical fire, some sort of fault in the wiring. A brand new socket had been put it about one month ago. … But I just had a class in there in the morning, Nothing was amiss, I didn’t smell anything.”

Fire Chief Rusty Palmer confirmed Friday that “all indications are it was an electrical fire.”

Leonard’s mobile classroom, his classic 1963 two-toned VW micro bus, escaped damage. Also spared was his 1954 Zundapp German motorcycle that took Leonard and his soon-to-be wife to Whidbey for the first time on a quick escape from Seattle many, many years ago.

The Goods are grateful that the 8-year-old student had left before the fire broke out and that South Whidbey Fire/EMS crews saved the structure from complete ruin.

“Then the firefighters thanked us for having a turnaround,” Linda Good said, “or they never could have gotten out of here.”

Leonard said he’s had many offers of help from friends but he’s still figuring out how to tackle the mess and memories.

“I don’t know what to tell them,” he said. “I guess we’ll just have to pull up a pickup truck and start pitching.”

David Felice contributed to the story.

In this 2014 photo, teacher Leonard Good leads young students through an experiment in his science classroom located behind his Langley home. Laboratory equipment, model airplanes and educational material were lost to a fire Wednesday that heavily damaged the structure’s roof and storage attic. (Photo provided)

In this 2014 photo, teacher Leonard Good leads young students through an experiment in his science classroom located behind his Langley home. Laboratory equipment, model airplanes and educational material were lost to a fire Wednesday that heavily damaged the structure’s roof and storage attic. (Photo provided)

Firefighters used a tanker truck and a small portable holding pool on the fire that broke out on Nancye Road in Langley. (Photo provided)

Firefighters used a tanker truck and a small portable holding pool on the fire that broke out on Nancye Road in Langley. (Photo provided)

More in News

Advisory Board holding public hearing on draft short-term rental ordinance

What rules should apply to homeowners who rent out houses, rooms or… Continue reading

Island County seeking District 1 applicants for planning commission

The Island County Board of Commissioners is seeking applicants from District 1,… Continue reading

Whidbey Community Foundation Receives $10K for census work

Whidbey Community Foundation received $10,000 in funding from the Washington Census Equity… Continue reading

WICA announces auditions for 20th season

The 2019-20 season marks Whidbey Island Center for the Arts’ 20th theater… Continue reading

Hands off the baby seals

Advocates for marine mammals are making their annual pitch to beach watchers… Continue reading

Former bank employee sentenced for theft

A former employee at an Oak Harbor bank was sentenced to jail… Continue reading

Commission OKs changes to fall bear-hunting rules

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved changes to the fall bear-hunting… Continue reading

Earthquake felt on Whidbey Island

People across Whidbey Island were awakened by an earthquake early Friday morning.… Continue reading

Conservation District looks at ‘rates and charges’ system

Whidbey Island Conservation District officials are considering going to a different kind… Continue reading

Most Read