Emergency procedures disrupted classes for more than an hour when a small fire incinerated a bulletin board near the Science wing of Oakland High’s London Hall on Tuesday morning.
After initial confusion because of an announcement to disregard the first fire alarm, a second alarm sounded and administrators told everyone to leave their classrooms. Students and faculty evacuated to the sports field while firefighters entered the buildings. The fire, which staff believe was intentionally lit by a student, did not spread beyond the area of the bulletin board.
Assistant principal Shoshana Towers-Cabrera said that staff needed to try three fire extinguishers to put out the blaze, because the first two extinguishers they tried were already empty.
Students waited on the field from late in period 3 until lunchtime dismissal. Other than some play-fighting and small disputes, students mostly talked, cuddled with friends, and played games. The 300s floor of London Hall was sealed off during lunchtime so that smoke could clear from the area. Classes resumed as usual during period 5.
Assistant principal Ben Schmookler said that people with asthma would be allowed to go home if needed. Teachers near the fire area were told to send students to the Wellness Center if they were having breathing problems.
The sealed floor was still open to some teachers. When asked why, Social Studies teacher Steven Moreno replied that he was allowed in because, “I’m a VIP!”
As of Tuesday afternoon, administrators were checking security cameras in hopes of identifying the student who started the fire. They said school protocol prevents them from releasing any information about the search.