Four firefighters were injured while battling a blaze at New Milford High School, according to officials.
Firefighters responded to a report of a blaze at the high school on Danbury Road Tuesday afternoon.
Flames could be seen coming out the top of the school building. The fire broke out at about 2:15 p.m. and has since been fully extinguished.
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All four firefighters were treated for minor injuries. One was treated for an abrasion, two for smoke inhalation and one for heat exhaustion, according to crews.
The fire is under investigation. Officials believe that a roofing project could be a contributing factor. New Milford Mayor Pete Bass tells us they were in the midst of doing roofing, which requires the use of a blow torch to help the material adhere to the roof.
The school was replacing its asphalt-shingled roof with a metal seamless roof.
“All we know is that roofers were on the scene when we got here and we’re assuming possibly it started from the roofing company,” said Water Witch Hose Fire Chief Kurt Ellsesser.
The fire and the efforts to knock it down have done damage. Although it's still too early to determine the extent of damage, the mayor tells us it is largely smoke and water damage. A structural assessment is expected to be done in the near future.
“There’s roof damage, smoke damage, and water damage on the third floor,” Bass said.
The fire chief estimates there is now a 50 x 100 foot hole in the roof. The water damage, from hoses and extinguishers, may go beyond the third floor.
The mayor said the area of the roof that was burned is having an emergency patch put in place overnight because of the forecasted rain.
On Wednesday morning, officials will be at the high school to continue their assessment and plan for clean up.
Despite it being summer vacation, there was a summer program going on in the school Tuesday. There were about 20 students participating.
The superintendent of schools said the students were all on their buses when the fire broke out, however there were still staff members in the building. That includes the high school principal.
"Heard a noise that sounded like breaking glass in a room to my left. I open the door to see an active fire in the ceiling and at that point, I told everybody it’s time to get out of the building," Principal Raymond Manka said.
The school’s superintendent said her initial primary thoughts were not about the building.
“The first question I had for the building administrator who reported it to me was, 'are all the kids and are all the faculty members safe and out of the building?'” said Superintendent of Schools Alisha Dicorpo. “The response to that was, 'yes. Everyone is safe.'”
The summer program will not be held at the school Wednesday and school officials are evaluating options for where and when it will resume.
The superintendent said she's set a temporary deadline of Aug. 20 for a cleanup crew to assess the damage and make necessary repairs. The school holds about 1,300 students.
No additional information was immediately available.
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