Fire destroys mobile unit at Casey school

December 03, 2003|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

LIBERTY - A mobile unit at Douglas Elementary School was heavily damaged by fire Tuesday afternoon but luckily there were no children in the building; classes had been dismissed prior to the fire.

The fire apparently had been burning an hour before anyone noticed, said Chief Gale Scott, Brush Creek Volunteer Fire Department. It appears the fire began in an outside heating unit on the south wall then spread to the ceiling, Scott said.

A state fire marshal and insurance investigators were expected to check the fire damage today and look for the cause, said Principal Judy Phillips-Dykes.

"There was a considerable amount of damage," she said.

School officials noticed the fire at 3:30 p.m. while after-school tutoring classes were being held in the main school building, Phillips-Dykes said.


"The first thing I did was to check the mobile unit to make sure all the students were out, then we evacuated about 70 students from the school building," she said. She said the mobile unit was close to the school building. "Our number one priority is the students.

"I commend them on the way the left the building," said Phillips-Dykes. "When we were ready to evacuate, the students left in a very efficient manner. They knew exactly what to do. They were calm and quiet and didn't waste time getting out."

The mobile unit housed the resource room, speech classroom and Head Start. Students who are usually in those rooms were left in the regular classrooms today, said Phillips-Dykes. She said students in speech class can use a storage room, but she's unsure about the Head Start children.

"We have no room for the Head Start, but we will make do until we can find somewhere else to locate the unit."

School Superintendent Linda Hatter said one end of the mobile unit showed the heaviest damage and water and smoke damaged the rest of the building. The windows were broken out, the roof is gone and the floor has damage. She said some things can be cleaned up and used.

"It would probably cost as much to make repairs as to buy another one," she said. "We'll have to wait for the adjusters to assess the damages."

"My major concern now is to make sure we have no more problems with mobile units," she said. Other mobile classrooms used where there is overcrowding will be checked, Hatter said.

Phillips-Dykes commended Brush Creek Volunteer Fire Department. "They (firefighters) got the fire under control and saved the main building from catching on fire."

Twenty-fire firefighters from Brush Creek and several other departments were on the scene.

"We appreciate all the help from the other fire departments and rescue units," said Scott. "The did an excellent job."

Scott also praised the principal on the way she reacted to the situation.

"She went into the building to make sure there no one was there," he said. "She's a brave and very smart lady."

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