Children evacuated after preschool catches fire

ST. GEORGE – Between 60 and 70 children were evacuated from their classrooms Monday afternoon when the Head Start preschool, located at 494 E. 900 South in St. George, caught fire.

Just before 1:20 p.m., fire alarms began buzzing at the school after flames erupted from an electrical fire.

Structure fire at SUU Head Start Preschool. St. George, Utah September 22, 2014 | Photo by T.S Romney St. George News
Structure fire at SUU Head Start Preschool, St. George, Utah, Sept. 22, 2014 | Photo by T.S. Romney St. George News

“They had smoke in the building as well as an electrical fire,” St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said. “Looks like it was contained to one classroom.”

Stoker said the fire was caused by a florescent light that failed and caught fire.

Three engines arrived on scene and a few more were on their way along with a ladder truck. The additional units were canceled after the first three arrived.

“Prior to our arrival, the school did a fantastic job of evacuating all the students,” Stoker said. “The students were all accounted for in their classroom areas outside, where they had practiced their fire drills.”

Fire crews went into the building, found the cause of the fire and shut off the power to the affected classroom. Fire units evacuated smoke from the building with fans. They then proceeded to check the building for carbon monoxide; once the levels went down to zero, St. George Fire proceeded to allow students back into the building.

“The staff actually (were) the ones who put out the fire, with a dry chemical fire extinguisher,” Stoker said. “Because of this there is fire extinguisher powder in that classroom and we have closed off that classroom. The students have been put in another section of the school.”

At the time of this publication, parents had not yet been called regarding the incident. If the fire department had been unable to allow the students back into the building, parents would have been called to come and pick up their children.

Structure fire at SUU Head Start Preschool, St. George, Utah, Sept. 22, 2014 | Photo by T.S. Romney St. George News
Structure fire at SUU Head Start Preschool, St. George, Utah, Sept. 22, 2014 | Photo by T.S. Romney St. George News

“The school did exactly what they had trained to do during their fire drills,” Stoker said. “They exited the building, had all of their students accounted for and with their teachers. This is one of the reasons they are required to do these drills is so when these things happen, it happens just like they drill.”

No one was injured today, Stoker said; everything worked the way it was supposed to from the alarms to the drills to the fire department response.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by responders on scene and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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  • DAVE RABBITT September 22, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Can’t help but think now – How old is this building? And on that note- How old are the rest of the fluorescent light fixtures? What I’m getting at, is: Would it not be a good idea to have the building (and its wiring) inspected and just as a safety precaution; Replace ALL of the fluorescent light fixtures, with newer units? Every component becomes more likely to fail, over many years of service.

    Preventative Maintenance:
    “The care and servicing by personnel for the purpose of maintaining equipment and facilities in satisfactory operating condition by providing for systematic inspection, detection, and correction of incipient failures either before they occur or before they develop into major defects”.

    – And since this is a facility in which young children occupy daily – their safety should be a Number 1 concern.

  • My Evil Twin September 22, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Kudos to the school and of course, to the fire personnel.!

  • Carol Watson September 22, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Well done St. George Teachers. I couldn’t be prouder and sad, the building was on fire! That is not good. Glad that you are so well trained for just such an emergency as this!

  • Koolaid September 22, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    Think of the potential fundraiser this had. Huge!

  • close to home September 22, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    that was my daughters classroom

  • Zonkerb September 23, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    I’m glad no animals were hurt and I hope no fire hoses were because those hoses are expensive

    • Zonkerb September 23, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      Left out the word damaged

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