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Fire forces evacuation of Woodland Park High School; no one injured

By: MATT STEINER matt.steiner@gazette.com
October 4, 2013 Updated: October 4, 2013 at 7:53 am
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photo - Students were evacuated and later told they could go home for the rest of Tuesday afternoon. (Matt Steiner, The Gazette)
Students were evacuated and later told they could go home for the rest of Tuesday afternoon. (Matt Steiner, The Gazette) 

A fire in the industrial arts area forced the evacuation of Woodland Park High School early Tuesday afternoon.

About 1,000 students went home early after a small blaze broke out shortly after 1 p.m.

Before the early dismissal, the students were ushered into the parking lots, where they watched and waited under the blue sky as fire crews raided the town's high school to put out the fire that was sparked by a "grinding machine" in the school's metal shop. Chief Tyler Lambert with the Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District said a student was working on a project when the fire began in the venting system above the grinder.

Lambert said his firefighters used an aerial truck to attack the blaze from a ladder extended above the roof.

The fire spread through the venting above the shop but was controlled quickly. By 1:30 p.m., no smoke was visible from Baldwin Street, which runs in front of the school. Crews from Green Mountain Falls, Divide and Cripple Creek also were on scene. Lambert said there were 17 firefighters working the blaze.

Administrators announced that all students could go home for the day shortly after 1:30 p.m. Students are normally released from the high school at 3:05 p.m.

According to Lambert, there were no injuries, and damages to the roof are estimated at less than $15,000.

Police said that officers and fire crews combed the building twice to ensure all students had been evacuated. Teller County Sheriff's deputies assisted Woodland Park officers in working traffic control as firefighters stretched hoses into the north end of the building to fight the blaze.

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