Keith’s band room, instruments damaged in Sunday fire

Published 9:14 pm Monday, July 23, 2012

An early Sunday morning blaze severely damaged the Keith High School band room and many of the school’s instruments. Three local volunteer fire departments responded to extinquish the fire and minimize any further damage. -- Tim Reeves

ORRVILLE — Less than a year after the Keith High School Parent Teacher Organization rallied to raise funds for new band instruments, many of those new instruments were destroyed in a fire early Sunday morning.

Community members, school leaders and others watched as smoke and flames billowed from the back portion of the school at around 1 a.m. Sunday. According to officials, it took three volunteer fire departments to extinguish the fire.

As of now school and fire officials have not determined an official cause of the fire, though some are leaning towards the idea an extension cord connected to a refrigerator overheated and sparked the fire.

Email newsletter signup

Maintenance workers from the Dallas County School System and faculty reported to the school Monday to survey the damage and take inventory of what is gone.

“I got a call about 1 a.m. Sunday morning and, well actually they said the school was ablaze,” Dallas County Schools Assistant Superintendant Don Willingham said. “So I called Dr. [Fannie] McKenzie and I think in both of our minds we were trying to figure out where the students would go to school, just not knowing the picture.”

Willingham said once he arrived the fire departments were containing the fire and the flames only damaged the band room and its storage, the other rooms in that back building received only slight smoke damage.

“A bunch of the things in the storage room that caught on fire we are still identifying,” Willingham said. “Some of the staff are coming in [Monday] to kind of re-inventory what is missing and what is damaged.”

The school system, he said, contacted their insurance and risk management vendors and started filing claims to get the ball rolling on repairs. A company will be brought in for clean up and band uniforms will need to be dry cleaned to get ride of the smoke smell.

Willingham, McKenzie and first-year Keith High School Principal Lou Ella Guthridge all said the fire would not disrupt plans for the start of the school year in August.

School’s first day is set for Aug. 20.