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Crews cleaning up high school

Fire incident leads to more stringent policy for safety guidelines and emergency response procedures.

May 12, 2007|By Rachel Kane

MAGNOLIA PARK — Cleanup and contractor crews entered the smoke damaged John Burroughs High School auditorium Monday to clear the results of the blaze that caused a whirlwind evaluation of safety policy last week.

Students and staff were caught off guard and evacuated from campus May 1 when an electrical fire sent smoke blowing up from the bottom of the building after what school staff initially thought was a false alarm.

"There are 150 people now in the building," said Craig Jellison, the district's chief facilities officer.

"They're rewiring and doing all kinds of stuff. There's approximately $1 million of loss and basically the incident was contained in a small, concrete room in the basement of the auditorium."

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No one was harmed in the fire but the incident led to a more stringent policy throughout the district to adhere to safety guidelines and emergency response procedures.

In the wake of damage to and dirtying of the auditorium, performing arts program instruments, props and costumes, Burbank Unified School District Board members set a $1-million budget Tuesday to get the auditorium back in shape by June 1 so that is available for graduation ceremonies that are scheduled to begin there on June 3.

Repair costs to the auditorium will be completely covered by the insurance company, he said.

Most of the work will be done to electrical batteries and wiring in the building that controlled an emergency lighting back-up system.

Smoke damage accounts for most of the cost related to the cleanup, he said.

"We had to get the curtains out to be laundered. We had to wipe everything down," he said.

"So it's major cleaning. It's 90% cleaning."

Until the cleaning and repairs are finished, the auditorium will remain unused. At least two scheduled performances have been moved to another facility.

The latest move is the school Vocal Music Assn.'s spring concert.

Members were informed Friday that they would be performing 7 to 8 p.m. May 18 at the Luther Burbank Middle School auditorium instead of the auditorium at Burroughs.

Along with the use of the auditorium being halted, a few classrooms in the building have also been left unusable because of smoke damage.

"The auditorium itself was not used on a daily basis," Principal Emilio Urioste said. "There are two classrooms that are a part of the complex — the band room and the choir room. And they were used on a daily basis."

Classes for band and choir have continued as scheduled in other parts of campus and the major performance competitions for the two had concluded before the fire started, Urioste said.

Contractors and cleaners will be cutting it close, however, for the school's baccalaureate ceremony on June 3 and the graduation ceremonies for Walt Disney Elementary School on June 6 and David Starr Jordan and Burbank Luther middle schools on June 7.

"The only program that will have a different location is going to be our senior awards ceremony, which is going to be in the big gym, and that's May 31," Urioste said.

All schools planning to use the Burroughs auditorium have contingency plans in case the cleanup and repairs take longer than anticipated.

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