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January 17. 2014 8:25PM

Garage fire does little damage at Hampstead school

HAMPSTEAD — A fire inside a maintenance garage attached to Hampstead Middle School on Wednesday caused minimal damage, but school officials will likely bring in a cleaning crew during February vacation to clean up any leftover soot after smoke filled the gymnasium.

Assistant Superintendent Roxanne Wilson said the custodial staff cleaned up as much of the soot as they could, but they weren’t able to reach parts of the gymnasium because of the high ceiling.

The only physical damage caused by the fire was limited to a bench in the garage that’s used for storing tools, a tractor and other maintenance equipment, Wilson said.

The fire broke out Wednesday just after 4:30 p.m. Students were playing basketball inside the gymnasium at the time of fire and safely evacuated.

Fire Capt. Chris Dane said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

School board Chairman Natalie Gallo said she was told that it may have been sparked by a battery charger in the garage.

Dane said firefighters remained at the school for about three hours.

Wilson praised fire crews for their quick response.

“The fire department was wonderful in their response in terms of taking it very seriously,” she said.

While the building has smoke and heat detectors, Dane said the school doesn’t have a sprinkler system because it was built before sprinklers were required.

The total cost of repairs and cleanup is still being determined, but Wilson said the school district will file a claim with its insurer.

“In any type of situation like this we always file a claim. We never know where it’s going to go,” she said.

The fire did not disrupt the use of the gymnasium Thursday and Friday, Wilson said.

jschreiber@newstote.com


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