Fire prompts evacuation of the Unified Arts Building



Fire engines line the entrance of the Unified Arts Building on Wednesday, as concerned members of the community look on. There was a minor fire in the building.

Jordan Watts, News Writing Editor

On Wednesday, April 25, there was a minor fire in the Unified Arts Building, requiring the immediate evacuation of all students and teachers.

According to Assistant Headmaster Hal Mason, no one was injured, as the teachers and students in career and technology education teacher Elizabeth Brennan’s metalwork and jewelry class followed all proper procedures.

“What happens is that you’ve got this really hot gas burning, which of course is really scary and bright,” Mason said. “It’s a very flammable gas, so you see flames coming out of the hose, and immediately the teachers and the students evacuated the room; they did everything they were supposed to.”

Mason explains that the fire was caused by an overnight buildup of acetylene gas in the tubes connected to a blowtorch used for welding in the class, which had been properly emptied the day before. The buildup of gas caused the nozzle to be knocked off and fire was released from the tube.

The fire from the tubes caused minor charring to the floor, but nothing else caught on fire. According to Mason firefighters were quickly on the scene to extinguish the fire.

“Job number one is to evaluate what’s happening and try to put out the fire, which they were pretty quickly able to do using just a chemical fire extinguisher,” Mason said. “At the same time, they are also checking every space in the building to make sure that no one’s around because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Mason said that the biggest concern was the tanks of acetylene gas, which could have caused serious damage if they were to have exploded due to prolonged exposure to the fire. Some of the firefighters stayed behind to ensure the safe removal of the compromised tanks, and students were kept out of the building for the remainder of the day.

Following the fire in the UA building, fire alarms were pulled twice in the main building without cause. Mason says that an investigation is being conducted, and the person or people responsible will face consequences from both the police and the school.