Wood shop fire prompts evacuation, early dismissal of Easton Area High School

Blaze began in school's wood shop, extinguished by sprinklers

Fire prompts evacuation, dismissal of Easton Area HS

PALMER TWP., Pa. - A fire cut classes short at Easton Area High School on Friday.

The fire broke out around 9 a.m. in the wood shop at the school, located at 2601 William Penn Hwy. in Palmer Twp.

"It was bright red. It was a huge fire, engulfed in flames, smoke pouring out of the room," said Nick Dipippa, a senior at the school.

Northampton County Communications officials said the students were evacuated, but were allowed to start returning to the gymnasium and cafeteria areas of the building around 9:45 a.m.

"We thought it was just a drill at first, but once we got outside, we realized it was an actual fire drill," said sophmore Natalie Paczes.

The fire started in a spray booth where students use spray paint to paint metal objects, officials said, but the exhaust fan backed up. The fumes from the spray paint caught fire.

"Spray booth meant to contain the fumes from any spraying. If not cleaned regularly, then it acts basically like a grease fire," explained Stephen Gallagher, the Palmer Township fire commissioner. "This could have been prevented if the hood was cleaned regularly."

The system should be cleaned every six months, Gallagher said. Easton's superintendent said he did not know the last time the system was cleaned or checked, but did say the work is typically done in the summer.

The overhead sprinklers put out the fire, but smoke filled the K wing of the school, officials said.

No injuries were reported.

Students were dismissed at 11:10 a.m. Friday. According to school officials, this will also cancel the afternoon CIT session for Easton student.

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Allentown, PA 18102


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