Penn Manor High School Cleans Up After November Fire

By Emily Thyrum

In one way or another, almost all Penn Manor High School students and teachers have been affected by the November 8 dryer fire that began in the FCS wing and spread smoke throughout the hallways of the school.  Most of the fire’s effects have since been resolved.

“Most of the damage was in terms of smoke damage,” said Dr. Phil Gale, principal.

After the smoke spread to the halls, the ventilation system sucked up the smoke and spread the smoke to the other parts of the school. As a result, the hallways around the Central Complex, the East Gym, the auditorium, and the FCS wing were impacted the most.

Dr. Gale said there were no permanent effects from the fire.

“If we hadn’t cleaned it thoroughly, the smell would have come back,” said Dr. Gale.

The district hired Paul Davis Restoration to clean everything thoroughly to get rid of the fine particles of soot the naked eye can’t see. The school district chose Paul Davis because the district has worked with the company before and it is one of the largest companies in the country. The clean up was paid for by the district’s insurance policy after the district paid a $1,000 deductible.

By Christmas break, Paul Davis Restoration had cleaned everywhere except the cafeteria. The company came back during the break to clean this area  because students use the cafeteria every day and it cannot be replaced by another room. According to Dr. Gale, the company finished the project ahead of schedule.

“They did a very thorough job…very accommodating for what we needed to have done,” Dr. Gale said.

The fire also affected the teachers of the FCS department whose classrooms were closest to the source of the fire.

“They took every chair, table, filing cabinets, my aprons, my food; they threw out my hand soap. They cleaned the appliances and cabinets,” said Mrs. Mindy Rottmund. All of her videos and files were ruined, and much of her food and supplies were, too.

Rottmund’s classes were moved to the computer lab in room 208 so that her room could be completely cleaned. Other teachers gave her supplies to help replace things she lost.

“For a few days, it was like being a brand new teacher because I had to start new lessons from scratch.”

FCS teacher Ms. Elizabeth Sheerer was also affected by the fire. Sheerers classes were relocated to the computer labs until after Thanksgiving break. If it hadn’t been for Sheerer’s laptop, she wouldn’t have had any of her files.

“I almost felt like a new teacher because I didn’t have my normal files, activities and supplies,” said Sheerer.

Her students did miss their room and asked frequently when they would return.

“I made use of the computer labs by having different activities relating to nutrition, car shopping and loans and housing options.  With the generosity of the staff, (and the) whole district, we were able to have some supplies to last until our things came back and we could “run” a normal class,” said Sheerer.

The washer/dryer combo was damaged in the fire and many things were cleaned, but many items cannot be treuend. Some of the items lost included those for a fashion class.

“Mrs. Rottmund and I lost some of our Thanksgiving break due to unpacking over 400 boxes and trying to get our rooms organized again.  We had to clean all the dishes and inside cabinets of the two kitchens, organize our office and the main room I use had to have all the cabinets cleaned inside,” Sheerer said.

Students in the First Priority Christian Club had collected toys, clothing, toiletry products and money to donate to Operation Christmas Child.

“The completed boxes were stored in my IPC until mailing scheduled on Friday, November 9.  However, the fire broke out on the 8th and the shoe boxes were removed from school. We did not know if they would return or not,” said Rottmund.

Luckily, a $400 donation was given to the club to replace the lost donations.

“Unfortunately, the mailing deadline had passed, so the club decided to purchase toys at Toys R Us and donate them to the Toys For Tots/Water Street Rescue Mission,” Rottmund said.

Meanwhile, the original donations were returned, so First Priority decided to donate the $168, which was supposed to have been used to mail the donations, to Samaritan’s Purse. The club then gave the original donations to the Penn Manor Needy Family Program in order to give the other toys along with the Giving Tree donations.