By Pat Maurer
“It will take one to two months to replace all of the damaged technology equipment [at Clare High School],” said Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District Engineer Adam Pitt Monday.
The district’s network equipment that provides the phone system and internet service was destroyed in an electrical fire caused by a lightning strike during a violent thunderstorm Saturday night.
“Lightning hit our wireless internet antenna,” said Superintendent Doniel Pummell. “It went into the technology closet and started an electrical fire. A motion detector was activated and the police went to investigate around 3:37 a.m. Sunday morning. We didn’t know there was a fire until 4:10 a.m. when the smoke alarm went off.”
The fire department extinguished the fire, which was contained in the technology closet but the rack for the technology and phone system was destroyed, Pummell said. “A tech team worked all day Sunday just to get our phones back up.” She said no computers were damaged and the antenna was replaced.
Pitt said it was a sixteen to 20 hour job to rewire and get the system back up and working again. “It is just a temporary fix though,” he said.
High School Principal Lee Turner said because of fans that keep the equipment cool, smoke and soot from the fire traveled through the school ductwork into the technology room and as far as the faculty lounge. “I’m so grateful we didn’t lose our data,” he said, “but the components are a total loss.”
Temporary repairs have the internet and phone system working again, at least partially, until the system can be rebuilt. Turner said the media center was shut down completely Monday while repairs and cleanup was underway.
Pummell said she didn’t have any idea of the cost of the damage yet. “The insurance adjusters are working on that,” she said.