Fire at GHS contained to one room

GUILDERLAND — On Saturday, March 13, a fire in the west wing of Guilderland High School was contained in an art computer laboratory with some smoke damage nearby.

“Earlier in the day, SATs were held at the high school, and some staff was onsite, but no one was in the area at the time of the fire,” Superintendent Marie Wiles wrote in a Sunday email to the school community.

School opened on Monday as usual.

A description given to the Guilderland School Board described events unfolding this way:

At 3:41 p.m., a fire alarm was triggered and the school’s monitoring company immediately contacted local fire companies and Director of Facilities Cliff Nooney.

Both Guilderland Center and Altamont volunteer fire companies responded. The fire was located in the lab. One staff member was in another part of the building at the time and left upon hearing the fire alarm.

When firefighters arrived, the room was filled with dense smoke and the hallway door was hot to the touch. The firefighters were quickly able to extinguish the fire that started in the back corner of the room and stayed in that area. However, the rest of the room sustained extensive smoke and heat damage.

Custodial Supervisor Mitch Carkner Jr. was the first district staff member to arrive at the scene to assist, followed by Nooney, maintenance team leader Dave Willey, maintenance mechanic Mike Hurley, custodial worker Tom Cashdollar, and photography teacher Kyle Greene.

A claim was filed with the district’s insurance carrier on Saturday evening and an adjuster was assigned. The fire-alarm company replaced the damaged smoke detectors in the lab that same evening and as an extra precaution, Nooney instituted a fire watch overnight as well.

An insurance adjuster arrived on Sunday morning accompanied by TechEast Fire & Water Restoration to begin addressing the fire and smoke damage to the lab and adjoining areas.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Town of Guilderland Fire Prevention and Investigation Unit. The district is continuing to work with its insurance carrier and TechEast Fire & Water Restoration with the goal of reopening the photography lab for student use as soon as possible.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer


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