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Fire at Albany school brings back memories of 'devastating' blaze

Officials said first responders were stunned when they heard calls about another structure fire at the school.

Posted: Dec 11, 2019 6:22 PM
Updated: Dec 12, 2019 11:54 AM

ALBANY, Ore. -- A fire that started at South Albany High School Tuesday evening is serving as a reminder of the blaze that leveled the school's cafeteria building over four years ago.

According to officials, first responders received reports of a fire in the school's gym building at 7:20 on Dec. 10. When they arrived, they searched the building and found the fire in an addition to the building that's under construction and quickly extinguished it. They stayed afterward and searched for areas that fire may have spread to.

Authorities said visibility proved to be an issue as smoke poured into the gym. Crews used fans to ventilate the building throughout the night.

Officials said the building is structurally sound.

According to administrators, the largest impact will be relocating gym classes and basketball games until the facilities are useable. The financial impact will be unclear until officials and insurance investigators determine the cause.

RELATED: FIRE UNDER INVESTIGATION AT SOUTH ALBANY HIGH SCHOOL

To many, the fire is a reminder of the April 2015 arson that destroyed a building containing the cafeteria, band room and several classrooms.

"For a lot of staff, they were here the last time it happened. So it seems pretty unbelievable that twice in your career in short timespan this could be happening," said Greater Albany School District assistant superintendent Lisa Harlan. 

According to Sandy Roberts of the Albany Fire Department, first responders were also stunned when they heard calls about another structure fire at the school.

"When we got that call and saw that address, for us, our hearts dropped," she said. "What happened in our community four years ago was devastating."

Both administrators and fire officials said they are grateful that more damage wasn't done by Tuesday's fire.

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