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Smoke damages GCHS gym

Published 8:38am Tuesday, October 23, 2012

GATESVILLE – The new gym at Gates County High School is temporarily closed due to a minor fire last week.

According to Joe Harrell, Maintenance Director for Gates County Public Schools, the facility will hopefully reopen this week. The timing is uncertain as he is waiting for the clean-up process to be completed followed by an inspection from health officials as well as the school system’s insurance firm.

The fire, which broke out around 8 p.m. on Thursday of last week, was blamed on a small box fan located in the weight room at the rear of the gym. Harrell said the fan was in operation and apparently overheated, causing a fire in the cord and motor assembly.

“It was a hard plastic fan; once that plastic overheated it began to melt, which generated a lot of smoke,” Harrell said.

He added that the alarm system did its job, prompting an immediate alert. Members of the Gatesville and Gates fire departments were dispatched and responded quickly. They were able to extinguish the minor blaze.

However, the smoke proved worse than the fire.

“We were able to use exhaust fans to purge the smoke from the gym area,” Harrell said. “The smoke and soot residue will have to be professionally cleaned before the gym can be used again. There is also the need to repaint a small area of one wall in the weight room.”

Harrell added there was no known damage to any of the equipment in the weight room.

County school officials have summoned an appraiser to perform an estimate of the damages.

“We’re all up to speed on where we stand on getting the gym cleaned and back open as soon as possible,” Harrell said. “I’ve been in constant contact with our superintendent (Dr. Barry Williams), our high school principal (Tammi Ward) and members of our board of education.”

Harrell said he would like to thank the prompt and professional response of the two fire departments as well as the efforts of Dr. Williams, Ward, the school board and the school’s maintenance staff for their assistance.

“With all this help, we’re working as a team to get our gym back in operation for our students and staff,” Harrell concluded.

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