A fire broke out in the ceiling of the Lincoln High School gym early Monday morning in Idaho Falls.
The fire alarm at the school was triggered at 1:22 a.m. on Monday and the Idaho Falls Fire Department received a call from a passerby minutes later. Officers from Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office and the Idaho Falls Fire Department arrived around 1:30 a.m. to find that the fire had burned a hole in the southeast corner of the gym’s ceiling. No one was inside the building when firefighters arrived and no injuries occurred to first responders or other neighbors.
“We are hugely grateful for the quick response from the fire departments that kept this from being a real disaster,” said Bonneville Joint School District 93 Director of Facilities John Pymm.
Idaho Falls Fire Marshall Scott Grimmett said the department is still investigating the cause of the fire but officials believe it started either on the roof or in the ceiling tiles above the gym. The department estimated the blaze and smoke damage to the building would cost at least $50,000 for the district to repair.
Conditions at the high school, which was built in 1903, may have contributed to the seriousness of the fire. The Lincoln High School gym was built in the late 1930s and never had enough renovations to require sprinklers to be added to the ceiling.
Michael Rose, the head custodian at Lincoln High School, received the call about the fire soon after the fire department did and was at the scene for most of the day Monday. He said this was the first fire he could remember in Bonneville Joint School District 93 since a group of students broke into Cloverdale Elementary School in 1994 and started a fire in the library.
Pymm said the gym had not been used for classes in recent years because Lincoln High School did not have a certified gym teacher on staff. The building will be closed indefinitely for cleaning and repairs.