Monday, August 15, 2011

A Not Necessarily Helpful or Insipring Post... School Fire 3 Year Anniversary!

Let me preface this blog entry by saying that this happened three years ago and everything is A-OK now!!!! :) Proceed!

Picture it (how's that for a Sophia Petrillo story telling opening?!... and tell me someone knows what I'm talking about with that!)...

Friday, August 15, 2008. My husband and I were out enjoying our usual "Friday Date Night"... dinner, a movie, and cell phones forgotten at home.

9pm we arrived home to our cell phones buzzing like crazy to let us know we had voicemails and the answering machine flashing off the hook!

The first message on the answering machine was my sister-in-law, who teaches in my building. "Christina... call me" is all she said. Message number 2... sister-in-law again, "Where are you guys? I tried your cell phones. Call me back!"... then the third message... "Christina! Central (our school) is on fire!".

We immediately got in the car, called her on the way, and headed to school.

By the time we got there, the fire was out for the most part. But there sat my school... four of the classrooms- including mine- wet, smoking, and smoldering.

We all stood around outside sad and crying over our poor school. And then the fire department let us go inside... my end of the building was SOAKED. I couldn't wait to get to my room. My room had no actual flame damage but my floor was flooded... my stuff ruined... and so much smoke you could barely see anything at all.

So, days and days go by with all of us just dying to get in there in the daylight and really see the damage. Finally, the Saturday later, we were allowed to go in just to catalog our losses for the insurance company. I walked in my room and the restoration crew had piled everything they were letting me keep in the center of the room. The pile consisted of all of my books (thank goodness!), one piece of furniture (a big book stand), and a stuffed Rizzo the Rat.

That. Was. All. Too much smoke damage on everything else.

The books I was so happy to be able to keep- my school was under construction and I had them stuffed away in my closet. But everything else (except my darling Rizzo!) had to be pitched.

There were four of us who had our classrooms destroyed and two teachers who literally did lose everything... not even books or Rizzos for them.

The 9 classrooms on my end of the building were moved into portables across the street from the school while our wing was fixed. Here's the portable we learned in from September until February... how's that for throwing a classroom together two days before school started?!

Half of the rooms only had smoke damage and they were able to move back in around Thanksgiving. But the four of us... our rooms were completely gutted and re-built and we were in portables until February. That's right... five months of tromping kids across and back from the school two or three times a day, rain or shine or snow or sleet... UGH.

Here are some pics of my gutted room:

BUT... three years later, I am proud to say that the fire is a distant memory... maybe not *distant*, but definitely something that seems like it was ages ago! We got all new things for our classrooms, the whole school got new carpet and windows, and it taught me a lot about what's important... for example I don't need my STUFF to be a good teacher because I didn't have any stuff for the first few weeks of school until orders started rolling in! I also learned that it is OK if I can't run on my pre-set schedule! I am *that teacher* who is in their room all summer, comes in on Sundays, and is always thinking about school as so many of you are too. Well, our portables didn't come until two days before school started and it was OK! I still taught and my kids still learned.

My classroom in 2011...

So I just returned from school for a day of meetings and working in my room (AKA not getting any work done because I was socializing all day) and I wished everyone I saw a "Happy 3 Year Fire Anniversary"!

I think that's it! I just wanted to share my school's journey! :)

Oh- how did it start... we were having construction done and some materials were left smoldering by the side of the building and ignited! Yikes!


  1. I am so sorry!!! I feel so bad!!!! I wish you the best of luck getting everything back together. :(

  2. No worries Miss Summer... today is the fire Anniversary! It happened in 2008! :)

  3. Oh my gosh! Wow...that is a scary story! I'm so glad it is only a memory...and you are a wonderful teacher! :)

  4. That is crazy!! I was definitely thinking that it would be horrible to have to set it all up again, but you're so's what you're teaching, how you're teaching, not the stuff :)

  5. What an inspiring story. Unpacking the room always makes me face the insane amount of "stuff" I have.
    Flamingo Fabulous in Second Grade

  6. Glad everything turned out ok!

    When I was in 6th grade and my brother and sister were in 12th our high school burned down... we literally lost 1/2 the school with the other half smoke and water damaged and were sent to school with a neighboring district since the school was un-usable. We shared the building from October until June. Their students used the building from 6am-12 noon and our students used it from 12 noon - 6pm. Goes to show what rival schools are capable of when you really need to work together!

    I know what water damage can do too... last year my classroom was flooded and I lost a lot -don't ask me how this happened, as I am on the 2nd floor!

    Anyway, as you said - good teachers can teach with (or without) anything. We can all learn a bit from that!

    3rd Grade Randomness

  7. Wow talk about rolling with the punches! I am glad you and your school managed to recover from that - and thank goodness it was before school and not while there were children there! Your classroom looks beautiful this year!

    Your story actually resonated with me because on April 23rd of this year we went to an Easter Egg Hunt with our children. We got a few messages from friends while we were out but since it was "family time" we ignored them. We stopped for lunch on the way home and got even more texts "Call me asap" etc from several different friends. Again, we ignored them.

    When we got home it was to the sight of 2 fire trucks in our yard and firefighters going in and out of our house - but no visible damage. Then the firefighters brought us around the side of the house and we realized that the entire backside of our house was gone! A fire had broken out while we were gone and our neighbors had called our friends who called our other friends who all tried to reach us. Not one of them thought to text us that our house was actually on fire though! Thankfully no one was home, the dog was in the back yard and the firefighters rescued the cats and the rabbit!

    Due to asbestos, lead paint and contractor delays we have not even started rebuilding, but I am hopeful it will turn out as well as your classroom did!

    Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten

  8. What a crazy ordeal! Your room looks great now, though; I love your big windows!
    Last year my school had a similar incident. On the 11th day of school, in the evening, a massive storm came through and tore the roof off. Then it proceeded to rain, flooding the entire academic area (everything but cafeteria and offices). So we missed about a week while we scrambled to find a solution. We ended up being split between 3 different locations for about 8 weeks while they remodeled every classroom and the library. My poor kindergarten class ended up in a "pod" which is basically a small space in a hallway between 4 other real classrooms. We had bookshelves for walls..and our school hours were about 30 minutes different so there were all kinds of issues with noise and transitions.
    Luckily, I now have a beautiful and new classroom (though no beautiful windows...)
    Kindergarten Creativity

  9. Oh my gosh! Thank you all for sharing your stories with me! I hate to say "it's nice to know I'm not alone" because it sounds awful... but it is nice to know that other people understand!

    And, Jennifer! Your positive outlook about your own situation is simply inspiring!

    Thanks again, everyone, for sharing your stories with me! Here's to a great school year for all... with no more disasters for anyone!


  10. Thanks for sharing your story, I always wondered what had happened. I guess that would be my biggest fear, my classroom catching on fire. My apartment I could deal with... but my classroom! I think I'd stroke out! LOL


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