Damage minimal at Tuesday CHS fire

Clare Fire Department’s firefighters and equipment were on the scene in minutes when a fire broke out at Clare High School Tuesday.

Clare Fire Department’s firefighters and equipment were on the scene in minutes when a fire broke out at Clare High School Tuesday.

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

A fire in the mezzanine area above the weight room next to the Clare High School gym Tuesday morning won’t delay the start of school August 28, Superintendent Jim Walter said Tuesday afternoon.

The school alarms were tripped at 4:39 a.m. Tuesday after a fan apparently malfunctioned and started a fire in a wrestling mat that it was placed on.
“Clare City Police Officer Greg Kolhoff arrived on the scene within minutes,” Clare Fire Chief Jim Chapman said. He said Kolhoff immediately contacted the Clare Fire Department and notified them that there was a fire and the building was full of smoke, Chapman said.

Firefighters quickly contained the blaze and began clearing the smoke from the building.

The industrial fan apparently failed, Walter said, causing the probable electrical fire that caught the wrestling mat it was on to catch fire.”

Fire Chief Jim Chapman said Tuesday afternoon that the fan, which was on top of the folded wrestling mat, was being used to dry carpeted floors in the mezzanine area above the workout room, which had just been cleaned as part of the preparation to ready the building for the first day of school, now just over three weeks away.

Clare Fire Fighters assisted by Surrey Township Fire Department personnel were making the entry into the stairwell which leads to the area where the fire started. The area surrounding the door is blackened by smoke.

Clare Fire Fighters assisted by Surrey Township Fire Department personnel were making the entry into the stairwell which leads to the area where the fire started. The area surrounding the door is blackened by smoke.

“No one was at the school at the time,” Walter said. “We anticipate that cleanup and repairs will be covered by our insurance.”

Walter added, ““We certainly are grateful to live in the community in which we do, where firefighters stayed on scene for over two hours to keep an eye on the scene and help facilitate getting the smoke out of the gym area.  One of their primary concerns was our ability to start school on time in late August, and offering their assistance so that we can.  Fortunately, we’ll be ready to go on time, in part thanks to their quick response and efforts.”

He continued, “No one was injured and that is the main thing. The mat and the fan that were destroyed were the only things visibly damaged.” He did say the cleanup would be costly. “There was quite a lot of smoke and soot damage throughout the gym and the workout room and in some of the storage areas in and around the gym.”

Walter said, “In the worst case, if the cleanup is not completed by the start of school August 28, we will use other facilities to meet the needs of our students and student athletes until it is repaired. We have another gym we can use.”

Chief Chapman said Wednesday, “The State Fire Marshall’s Fire Investigation officer and an insurance investigator from the insurance company will be on the scene to investigate the fire Thursday.”

This is all that remains of a wrestling mat and an industrial fan that were destroyed in a fire at CHS early Tuesday morning.

This is all that remains of a wrestling mat and an industrial fan that were destroyed in a fire at CHS early Tuesday morning.

He said, “It’s different from the investigation of a residential fire. All schools are State regulated facilities just like a hospital or nursing home. The Bureau of Fire Service Fire Marshall Inspector is responsible to see that these facilities are up to code. We are required to contact the Bureau when there is a fire or a violation. I contacted both the Fire Marshall Inspector as well as the State Fire Marshall Investigator to determine the cause of the fire as well as to help get the School back in shape for the students return to school.”

Clare Police, Surrey Fire Department and Harrison Fire Department assisted the Clare FD at the scene, Chapman said.

Photos by Bob Guiliani

 

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