John Mills School gym back in use after fire damage

After a Dumpster fire scorched John Mills School several weeks ago, damaging the school’s gymnasium, students are now able to use the space.

Mary Sturgill, principal of John Mills School, 2824 N. 76th Ave., said students were using the gym Aug. 21. She said that since the fire has been put out, they’ve been working to clean up and dry out the gym area, which received mostly water and smoke damage while firefighters fought the blaze.

Firefighters got the call at 11:39 p.m. Aug. 2 about the fire at the school, and it took 20 minutes to get the fire under control. Some scorching and brick damage occurred near the Dumpster, although it was minimal.

Soot got into the window wells that descend to the basement band room; those will need to be cleaned. And the stage curtains, which absorbed a lot of smoke, may need to be replaced and several windows on the gyms western wall were broken out completely or cracked due to the heat from the fire.

Sturgill said that they were able to bring in machines to dry out the floor. Though the floor is still a little warped, it’s not bad enough to keep students out of the space.

“They still need a little more work,” she said. “Fortunately we can use it again, because we’d have to have gym outside and it’s hot.”

She said they will try to clean the drapes that have been smoke-damaged or replace them. The broken windows are covered with wood for now.

“The windows have to be special-ordered and be replaced over the winter,” she said.

Sturgil said the day after the fire, she and the assistant principal were able to go in and assess the damage.

“Overall it could be a lot worse,” she said.

The gym now being used and the space available for activities is a plus in her eyes.

“We’re so happy it wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” she said.

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