Fire cleanup shuts school in Howard

January 02, 1991|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Evening Sun Staff

Students at Lisbon Elementary School in Howard County could get another week of Christmas recess while school officials clean soot from the building after a fire that was triggered by an explosion in the mechanical room.

A transformer in the mechanical room exploded Monday night, blowing the hinges off the room's doors. The fire caused property damage estimated at $85,000 and left the building without electricity.

Howard County Public Schools spokeswoman Patti Vierkant said students, parents and teachers were being notified yesterday that the school would not open today. She said there was a possibility the building could be closed all week.

"I would imagine that the kids love it and the parents will be a little dismayed," Vierkant said. Students had been scheduled to return to class today after the Christmas recess that began Dec. 21.

The spokeswoman said the county would not have an alternative class site for Lisbon's 500 students if the school cannot open this week. The school is at 15901 Frederick Road.

"There really isn't any other facility that I know of that has enough capacity to take in a whole school," Vierkant said. "Our only option might be to keep the students home. Our people are assessing the damage now, and we should know more by [today]."

Battalion Chief Donald Howell, of the county Fire Department, surveyed the damage yesterday and said it could take several days to clean up debris from the fire, which was reported at 9:28 p.m. Monday. The blaze was battled by 45 firefighters.

Howell said $60,000 of the estimated loss was in damage to the structure and $25,000 to contents.

"It's not like they had a roaring fire in the school," said Howell, adding that the cause of the explosion remained under investigation. "But there was a big-time electrical fire in the mechanical room."

Howell said workers were trying to repair electrical circuits in the building yesterday afternoon, but that virtually every area in the school was covered with soot that drifted from the mechanical room.

"Everything exposed in that school is going to have to be wiped down," he said.

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