(OOLITIC) - Oolitic students will begin their fall break a day early.
There is no school today for Dollens Elementary School or Oolitic Middle School students.
Firefighters from Oolitic, Marshall and Shawswick Volunteer Fire Departments responded to a fire at Oolitic Middle School Monday afternoon.
"The fire alarms sounded at 4:02 p.m." says Jeremy Gilbert, 7th grade basketball coach. "You could smell the smoke as we were walking from the building."
The coaches goal was to get the students out as soon as possible.
The 7th grade basketball team was practicing with the 8th grade team, coached by Mike Gilbert. There were 22 boys in the gym when the fire alarms sounded.
"We were in the middle of an intense practice," says Mike Gilbert. "We shot them out of the building."
Also in the building were the 5th grade cheer squad and basketball team.
Dollens Elementary School principal Kurt Godlevske and Oolitic Middle School principal Steve Underwood, along with North Lawrence School Superintendent Dr. Dennis Turner and Assistant Superintendent Gary Conner were at the school.
"It appears the fire started on a mat under a piece of equipment in the weight room," says Oolitic VFD Captain Danny Gillespie. "We have not determined what started the fire at this time. The room was shut off, but there was some intense heat and smoke coming from that room."
Gillespie says the room is about 20 foot by 40 foot and on the lower level of the middle school.
"The fire was contained to that area," says Oolitic VFD Lt. Roger Staley. "The rubber flooring in the weight room caused a lot of smoke throughout the building. The fire doors did their jobs preventing the fire from getting oxygen and spreading."
Firefighters had the fire out quickly and spent the rest of the time ventilating the building
Turner says the lower level of the building is home to the gym, band and orchestra, the home economics and shop area.
There are security cameras in the weight room and fire and school officials will review the films to see if they can shed some light on what might have caused the blaze, Turner says.
"We are blessed that no students or staff were injured," Turner added. "I am being told there is damage to the athletic room, equipment and uniforms but that can all be replaced. We will know more when we can get in there."
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