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Small fire causes school district to cancel classes

By Staff | Mar 10, 2020

MONTGOMERY – Following a small fire last Thursday in the school’s woodshop room, classes were cancelled until Monday, March 9.

The fire was extinguished in the woodshop’s dust collector, located in the high school portion of the building in a short period of time. However, the school’s air conditioning and heating ventilation system pulled much of the outside smoke from the fire back into the large complex, Clinton Township Fire Chief Todd Winder said.

The fire was ruled accidental and caused by a spark from a computer-generated machine, he said, adding the spark was enough to ignite dust in the dust collector. While the ventilation system spread smoke throughout the schools, actual fire damage was confined to the ductwork in the school’s dust-collection system, Winder said.

The building at 120 Penn Street, houses the high school, middle school and elementary school as well as the district’s administrative offices.

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene about 11:20 a.m. after a teacher pulled an alarm upon discovering the fire, Winder said. Classes were cancelled for the remainder of the day an hour later.

“In some areas of the building there was a very light haze while in other parts there was very thick smoke,” Winder explained.

Joining Clinton Township firefighters were volunteers from Montgomery, Washington Township, Hughesville, Picture Rocks, Muncy Area and South Williamsport.

Additional resources were used to obtain several additional exhaust fans needed to blow all the smoke back out of the two-story building.

Two things truly helped contain the emergency situation, Winder said. The dust collector had been cleaned out and serviced earlier this week, “so there was not as much product in the collector to burn,” he said.

Also, when the shop teacher discovered the fire, a few students quickly grabbed portable extinguishers and worked together to prevent the flames from spreading.

Students were already evacuated from the schools when firefighters arrived on the scene.

District staff and other personnel Friday and last weekend cleaning the building so that classes could resume on Monday.

“All the smoke detector heads have to be cleaned and serviced,” Winder said, who praised district administrators and the staff in working together with the fire companies.