By MORGAN MANNS
FOR THE COURIER
FOSTORIA — A fire in the boiler room of the Fostoria Junior/Senior High School on Tuesday morning forced school officials to cancel classes for the day for all Fostoria students, and close the building through the rest of the week.
And in coming weeks, junior/senior high school students may be attending classes elsewhere while their building is cleaned.
Fostoria firefighters were called to the school at 1001 Park Ave. at 5:06 a.m. According to interim Fire Chief Brian Herbert, “heat and smoke” were emitting from the boiler room and a fire was located in the rear of the room on the east side of the building on the first floor.
Firefighters from Tiffin were called, as Fostoria crews were already battling a house fire on Sandusky Street.
The school fire was extinguished in less than 10 minutes. Herbert said fire damage was “pretty minimal” as the fire was contained in the boiler room.
But the blaze caused the district to cancel all classes Tuesday due to a power outage that disrupted phone and internet systems at all four buildings.
“Our phone and internet systems work through the servers at the junior/senior high school,” Superintendent Andrew Sprang said. “I didn’t want to put students in buildings where we didn’t have phone services in case an emergency were to occur.”
Electricity was restored to all of the buildings by the end of the day Tuesday, which will allow elementary students to return to school today.
However, smoke moved through the ductwork and spread throughout the junior/senior high school building, according to Sprang, prompting the closing of the school for the week.
Sprang said Cleaner & Dryer Co. of Toledo has been hired to clean the entire building and bring air quality and the rooms up to safe standards.
The company will begin the cleaning process today, working seven days a week, according to Sprang, in an effort to meet a cleanup completion date of six to eight weeks.
“It’s going to be quite a process moving forward,” Sprang said.
School officials held an emergency meeting Tuesday evening to discuss options for housing junior/senior high school students. Sprang said several options are being pursued, however, nothing that was “ready to go public.”
“We met with the administrative team and board (Tuesday) evening to really try to get as many heads around the issue as possible,” he said. “We’re looking at every option that’s out there. We have the next six days to come up with a plan to get our junior/senior high school students in school.”
Officials are looking at options of alternate spaces for students to continue their education.
Other factors such as food service, transportation and technology will then have to be looked at before a location is picked.
A handful of community members attended the public meeting, approaching officials with concerns and allowing officials to quash rumors.
“Every day that we lose, we’re losing time with our kids in the classroom,” Sprang said, but he noted the district is OK on calamity hours. “We need to get them back as quickly as we can and we’re formulating that plan to find spaces where we can educate our kids.
“We need consideration, patience and understanding. We have to work together because at the end of the day, we have to be there for the kids and do our best to make decisions based on what’s best for the kids.”
More information will be discussed at tonight’s board of education meeting. The meeting has been moved to the cafeteria of the Fostoria Intermediate Elementary School, 1202 HL Ford Drive, and will begin at 6 p.m.