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Fillmore Central fire


Wed, May 19th, 2010
Posted in Police Reports

Around 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday, students and teachers at Fillmore Central High School in Harmony were enjoying their lunch hour or working on last-minute school work in study hall. The fire alarm sounded, and everyone went outside and across the street, the routine that is followed whenever there is a drill.

But this time there was no drill. A fire had been spotted in the boiler room down in the basement. There were students lifting weights in the weight room at the time, and some teachers were still in the teachers' lounge eating lunch.

High School Principal Heath Olstad received a call in the office about the fire. The alarms went off as he was leaving the office to check out the situation.

"I went to the boiler room," said Olstad. "I saw six-foot high flames in one area. I knew a small fire extinguisher wasn't going to get that."

Everyone was evacuated to the Community Center. Sirens could be heard within minutes as emergency crews came, and the fire department put out the flames. It wasn't long after that a crew from KTTC in Rochester arrived to get the scoop on what was happening. The news spread quickly throughout the area.

The students and staff members all waited patiently at the Community Center, and some took advantage of the nice weather by playing football or basketball. Olstad soon let them know that school would be let out at 1:30. Arrangements were made for the buses to take home all of the students in grades K-12.

As of a few hours after the fire, the exact cause of the fire was still unknown. Olstad said he had no idea how bad things were inside, how much damage had been done from the fire, smoke, or the water. School was supposed to be finished for the year on Friday, but there was no word on whether they would be able to continue as usual.

"The students and staff did an excellent job," said Olstad. "We got everybody evacuated, and the fire department got there quickly. My compliments to them for doing a great job."

Many people waited around for a long time outside the school before being allowed inside to get their car keys to go home. Olstad said they were not allowing anybody inside until the fire inspector from Stewartville arrived and did an inspection. When he gave the okay, then people would be allowed inside to get their things.

Nobody was harmed by the fire, which was contained to one area. The students had a break from their routine, and an unexpected event for the end of their school year. After all the fire drills they have had every year, the students and staff found they could handle a real emergency and make the best of it.

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