front page - search - community 

Major fire, minor disruption at Ballou

(Published April 9, 2001)

An early morning fire March 31 at Ballou Senior High School caused severe damage to a science lab but created little disruption to academic programs since the lab was due to be closed soon for refurbishing, the school’s principal said.

School officials delayed by one day the scheduled administration of the Stanford-9 achievement test, which was due to begin April 2, to allow more time for smoky odors in part of the school to dissipate.

Principal Art Bridges said fire and smoke damage caused some room assignments for taking the test to be changed, but he said the testing went smoothly.

Fire officials said they believe a power surge at about 1 a.m. sparked a fire that began in a ceiling fixture inside the science lab. Flames were licking out of first-floor windows and reaching the outside of the school’s second floor when firefighters arrived. It took 60 firefighters about 25 minutes to put out the fire, fire department spokesman Alan Etter said.

A spokesman for Potomac Electric Power Co. confirmed that Ballou was without power for much of the Friday before the fire due to a fault in an underground feeder line. Students were scheduled to attend only a half day of school that day, so the 10:30 a.m. power outage caused minor problems, Bridges said.

Copyright 2001, The Common Denominator