UPDATE-7: Focus Turns to Clean Up at Fire Damaged Preble - WBAY

UPDATE-7: Focus Turns to Clean Up at Fire Damaged Preble

Updated:
Officials at Preble High School believe the school year will start as scheduled, despite extensive damage caused by a fire early Friday morning.

A letter sent to parents says "preliminary indicators" show the school should be ready to welcome back students on September 2.  The letter says a restoration company will work around the clock to clean up.  School leaders are asking people to stay away from the building until further notice.

"Work with the restoration company will continue and they will communicate with us on when it is safe for our students to return to school," said Natasha Rowell, principal of Preble High School.

The Green Bay Metro Fire Department says crews were called to the school on Deckner Ave. about 1:30 a.m. Friday when a citizen noticed smoke coming from the building. When crews arrived on scene, they witnessed smoke pouring from the gym on the southwest corner of the school. 

"It was coming out of the top of the gymnasium, but yet, for a little while, it impeded visibility on Danz Avenue, which is unusual," said Asst. Chief Mike Nieft, Green Bay Metro Fire Department.

Investigators say it took firefighters about 45 minutes to find the fire because of the size of the building and the amount of smoke. Once inside the gym, crews saw bleachers and wall coverings burning.  They say the fire had been burning for awhile.

"The gymnasium was quite hot, and that's got to do with some of the materials and the plastic products and what the bleachers were made out of, things like that, so there was a lot of heat and a lot of smoke," said Nieft.

Crews were able to contain the blaze to the gym, but smoke caused substantial damage throughout the school. They say smoke was thick and heavy, and likely traveled through the ventilation system, causing damage to just about every room.

About 80 firefighters from seven departments were called to help battle the blaze.

No one was hurt.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but firefighters say there is no evidence at this time that would suggest it is suspicious in nature.

"We know where the base of the fire was, which was in the gymnasium. We don't have anymore on cause at this point and time," said Nieft. "We're basically now going to look at the burn patterns, look at the materials available to burn. We're going to look at what could have caused them to burn ... and we'll talk to anybody who had access to the building and give us some history of what was going on in the building."

An alarm was triggered, but investigators do not know if it was from smoke, or someone in the building.  Video cameras were not damaged in the fire, so investigators are pouring through footage in hopes of pinpointing the cause.

Word spread among Preble students. Some even came to the school in the middle of the night when they heard about the fire. "I saw it on Twitter," Preble Junior Cassidy Duquaine told us, "a bunch of my friends were tweeting about it and then I saw someone from the news, there was a tweet from the news people."

"It doesn't look too bad from the outside. I don't know about the inside. I hope it's okay," fellow Junior Brooke Baravetto said.

The school has announced the following changes to activity schedules:

  • There will be no open gym until further notice.
  • Students who were attending summer school should report on Monday morning (August 11) to Edison Middle School, 442 Alpine Drive. Classroom assignments will be posted outside the main office. Staff will be on hand to assist the students. If parents or students have questions regarding summer school, please contact summer school administrator Courtney Kuehn at cmkuehn@gbaps.org
  • Students who are attending Driver's Education with “Just Drive” should report next week to Edison Middle School at their assigned time.
  • Back to school registration scheduled for August 13 and 14 will be relocated to East High School, 1415 East Walnut Street. We have extended online registration for Preble students and families through August 19. A make-up day for late registration will be announced.
  • All practices at Preble today (August 8) are canceled.
  • Saturday, August 9 football picture day has been canceled.
  • Varsity and JV football players should plan to practice as scheduled on Saturday, August 9 at 10:00 a.m. Students should report to the football shed by the practice field on Newberry Ave. There will be no access to the building. Players should plan to wear appropriate practice clothing.
  • Sports beginning next week (boys' soccer, girls' tennis, girls' golf, girls & boys volleyball) should report to their offsite location as scheduled. There is no access to Preble.

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