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Officials say fire shows why school needs to be renovated

September 30, 1999

CLEAR SPRING - Wednesday's electrical fire at Clear Spring Elementary School was a perfect illustration of why the aging school is undergoing a major renovation, school officials said Thursday.

"It was an old dishwasher leaking water into an old pipe and onto the old electrical system," Principal Jill Burkhart said.

She commended her staff and the students' parents for reacting quickly to the emergency that came just as many of the 442 children were boarding their buses to go to school Wednesday morning.

"Buses were turned around and children were returned home," Burkhart said. "And parents got on the telephone and told other parents who then called other parents, all without even being asked."

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Things worked so well that not one child was stranded at the school building Wednesday.

"This incident also pointed out why it is so important for parents to have emergency plans for their children in situations like this," Burkhart said.

A letter went home with all children on Thursday reminding parents to have such plans and a place for their children to go when things like this happen.

Ironically, all Washington County schools are in the process of preparing their emergency plans for the new school year, Rinehart said. Clear Spring Elementary School just got to test its plan a little earlier than expected.

The initial call came in at 6:44 a.m. Wednesday for the school at 12627 Broadfording Road. Firefighters from Clear Spring, Williamsport, Maugansville and Franklin County, Pa., were dispatched to the scene.

Some smoke was generated when the incident occurred.

"Luckily, this old building is mostly block ... there's not too much to burn," Burkhart said.

The damage didn't affect any of the new construction, which is ongoing in the building. The electrical system, which was scheduled for replacement anyway, was just done a little early, she said.

The situation was corrected at 7:24 a.m. Wednesday and the school reopened Thursday on schedule.

-Marlo Barnhart

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