Bethel dismisses students following small fire

No injuries reported; Power surge likely cause of fire

By Melanie Yingst -

BETHEL TWP. — Bethel Local Schools students were dismissed from campus on Monday following a small fire in the elementary school’s basement, which was immediately contained.

According to reports, the fire was first reported shortly after 10 a.m. and no injuries were reported.

According to Superintendent Justin Firks, a power surge in the area of State Route 201 likely caused the small fire in the elementary schools’ boiler room. The surge caused an air compressor to overheat and catch fire, which was quickly contained.

Firks said Bethel Township fire officials said the surge likely caused a “domino effect,” shutting down electricity in the area.

Firks said all staff and students were immediately evacuated and no injuries were reported. Firks said the building lost power so cafeteria services or other services such as restrooms and electricity weren’t available, so students were dismissed beginning around 11 a.m.

Firks said it was an unfortunate incident, but the damage was contained and the building was being aired out. Firks said fire officials cleared the building, which will be open to students as scheduled on Tuesday.

Firks said he was pleased with all staff, students and teachers who “rose to the challenge” as they coordinated the early dismissal of the district’s 1,600 students in under two hours. Firks said he appreciated the staff’s cooperation to account for the whereabouts of each student as they went home by bus or were picked up by a parent.

Firks said only the air compressor will need to be replaced due to the fire. He estimated the cost to be around $200.

“We are very fortunate,” he said.

No injuries reported; Power surge likely cause of fire

By Melanie Yingst