Eminence Independent School students had an early day as officials shut down the school on Monday morning due to a non-injury fire in the gymnasium lobby.
Emergency 911 Dispatch received a call at 9:42 a.m. that the school had a fire in the gymnasium lobby. Eminence Fire Chief Gary Lucas said damage was minimized.
“It appears that in the corridor entry way into the gymnasium, which actually at this time due to the construction is being used as the cafeteria, there are some self controlled heating and air conditioning units in the exterior wall and apparently one of those short circuited out and started a fire in the unit,” Lucas said. “Upon arrival we had heavy flames running from that unit up the wall to the exterior wall inside and outside the unit of the building.”
Lucas said flames had reached the ceiling, but with the use of fire extinguishers and the fast reaction from school personnel, the fire caused no significant damage.
“We got it knocked out pretty quickly before it got any further into the structure,” Lucas said. “Every one at the school did a great job of evacuating the school and controlling the students. The fire alarm system is back online and we’ve notified the state fire marshal office, which is standard protocol anytime it is a church or a school building type of organization, that everything is okay.”
Lucas said luckily he was nearby when he received the call.
“People don’t always understand that we are not always close by. We are a volunteer fire department,” Lucas said. “I just happened to be at city hall turning in my budget this morning.”
EIS Superintendent Buddy Berry said the school closed for safety reasons.
“We have been using that area as a cafeteria and due to the damage from the fire and the fumes we don’t want to risk what it may have done to the food,” Berry said. “We will reopen by Tuesday after the clean up.”