Fire closes CVU on Monday (12/10/09)

Dec. 10, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Classes at Champlain Valley Union High School were canceled Monday due to an overnight fire that filled hallways with smoke and strong odors. According to Principal Sean McMannon, a fire broke out in the school’s woodworking shop classroom around 2 a.m. on Monday morning. Alarms sounded in the buildings, triggering sprinklers in the industrial arts wing and a response by area fire departments

McMannon said fire officials told him they believed the fire started in a dust-collecting unit in the wood shop. The system had recently been emptied and the remaining sawdust particles may have spontaneously combusted, McMannon said.

The Hinesburg Fire Department and firefighters from three other communities reported to CVU in the early morning hours to extinguish any remaining fires and clear smoke from the building.

While there were no towering flames reported, smoke and strong, smoky odors filled the southern wing of the building near the Direction Center and science classrooms.

“Outside of the metal and wood shop areas, it wasn’t bad at all and, in some places, not even noticeable,” McMannon said.

School was closed so fire officials could survey damage and help maintenance workers clear out smoke and odors, he said. Extracurricular activities and athletics practices went ahead as scheduled Monday afternoon and evening. The CVU School Board meeting moved to the Chittenden South Supervisory Union central offices in Shelburne, since the assigned meeting room at the high school was located next to the wood shop.

“All in all, we’re very fortunate,” McMannon said. “We might have some stinky rooms for a while, that’s all.”

Classes resumed Tuesday on a normal schedule.