A small fire in the Arapahoe Public Schools building Friday afternoon forced the cancellation of remaining classes. A fire alarm at the school was activated at 12:57pm. Fire Chief Brian Sisson says receiving alarm calls for the school is not unusual as he describes their fire alarm system as “dated.” But, before firefighters began arriving at the fire hall, school faculty had notified the dispatch center at the Furnas County Sheriff’s Office that there indeed was a “visible flame” in the elementary wing of the school. Sisson describes that area as a newer portion of the school complex.
The first responding fire truck arrived within minutes of the call. As firefighters entered the building, Sisson says they encountered “light to moderate smoke” coming out of a women’s bathroom. School staff had already attempted to put out the flame with fire extinguishers. Firefighters entered the bathroom with self-contained breathing apparatuses and a thermal imaging camera, the latter helps them find hot spots that may not be visible to the human eye. With the technology, Sisson says they were able to locate flames coming out of a ventilation fan in the bathroom. They finished putting out the fire with one of the fire extinguishers that was left behind in the bathroom. Firefighters finished their work on scene by ventilating the remaining smoke in the building wing. One faculty member was transported by Arapahoe Fire & Rescue to a Cambridge hospital for possible smoke inhalation. No other injuries were reported.
Sisson credits the school faculty and Elementary/High School Principal Bob Braithwait for the orderly and efficient evacuation of the building. Sisson says the school district works on fire drill evacuations “quite often” to make sure the students “know what to do” and “where to meet”. The evacuation apparently went so smoothly that he said it appeared like a “regular, routine fire drill” when he initially drove by the scene. “That faculty’s got it down pat.”
A school spokesperson could not be reached for comment. Given the minimal damage and one injury, Sisson concluded that “something good came out of something that possibly could have been bad if it would have been a different time of day.”