Fire destroys Galena school shop building

Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2011

GALENA — The entire village of Galena pitched in to help fight a fire that destroyed a school shop, even as temperatures plunged to 50 degrees below zero.

The unattached two-story shop building at the Sidney C. Huntington School caught fire Saturday evening, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. City Manager Tom Corrigan said nearly all the village’s 600 residents helped firefighters, mostly by helping them keep warm.

“There was an immediate, amazing response to the fire,” Corrigan said.

“It was a full village turnout, and not people just looking. They were all helping, bringing coffee from their homes, extra gloves for the firefighters and making soup for the firefighters.”

Villagers also brought their vehicles to give fire crews a place to warm up.

No one was hurt in the fire. Its cause is under investigation.

Corrigan said the frigid temperatures made fighting the fire extremely difficult.

The village’s tanker truck had to be heated and resupplied by another truck that shuttled water from a source several thousand feet away, he said.

School officials transferred classes usually held in the shop to the main school building about 50 feet away. The shop building had classes in automotive repair, carpentry, electrical and metalworking.

The 5,000-square-foot shop was built in the late 1990s and did not have a sprinkler system.

Huntington School teaches kindergarten through grade 12. It’s one of two schools in the Yukon River community about 270 air miles west of Fairbanks.

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