Fire in ceramics room causes school-wide evacuation

December 5, 2017 — by Krithi Sankar and Siva Sambasivam

Just after the noon lunch bell rang last Thursday (Nov. 30), a fire alarm began blaring across campus. Most students assumed it was a false alarm or a drill. It was neither.

Instead, a small portion of roof above the ceramics room had caught on fire, causing all students and staff to head to their evacuation spots located on the upper and lower fields. The fire began in an area above the room’s kiln.

Though the main cause of the fire has yet to be officially confirmed, the administration said that over the last 20 years, the ceramics room has accumulated dust and other particles in the exhaust shaft. When the kiln was turned on during third period, the dust from the shaft and exhaust pipe leading up to the roof may have ignited, causing the roof’s frame to catch on fire, according to principal Paul Robinson.

The fire affected the power and gas lines near the ceramics room, causing the administration to shut down power to both lines in the ceramics room and all nearby buildings on campus.

Though this incident caused concern among students and staff alike, the fire was controlled quickly, with minimal damage to school property and no injuries, Robinson said. Regardless, the administration is working toward preventing another fire from happening again.

“We will be rebuilding the area and making sure the supports all meet current fire codes,” Robinson said. “Fire codes today are tougher than they were 20 years ago [when the building was first constructed] so we feel the roof will be safer than ever once we've finished.”

A temporary wall was constructed in the ceramics room to keep students away from the kiln area while repairs are being made.

The administration credits the cooperation of students in keeping everyone safe and minimizing the potential damage from the fire.

Returning upperclassmen who had gotten to their cars early enough to go off campus for lunch were quickly ushered to the lower field by school secretary Mandy Armes and campus manager Mark Hernandez. Additionally all the students who were able to get off campus, were sent to the field once they returned.

“We create procedures for accidents like this and we practice,” Robinson said. “It all works when everyone does what they're supposed to, and last Thursday was great evidence of that.


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