By Terry McCafferty ’22
On the morning of Thursday, February 25th, a small fire in the basement of the Saint Ignatius High School caused classes to move online for the day. At 6:58 am, Principal Dr. Fior notified the school saying, “Due to a small but contained fire on campus in the Main Building, on campus classes are cancelled today, Thursday, February 25. Cleveland Fire Department is on the scene. Students stay tuned for details from teachers.”
In a tweet, the Cleveland Fire Department wrote that the “fire [was] in a utility/storage closet at [Saint Ignatius] at W.30th/Carroll in 4th Battalion.” They also said that the “fire [was] quickly extinguished” and “no injuries [were] reported.” Later on in the day, according to WKYC, Lt. Mike Norman of the Cleveland Fire Department reported that the cause of the fire had been identified as an electrical short that caught cardboard and papers on fire.
In an additional email, sent at 7:20 to all students, Dr. Fior wrote, “Today, we will conduct classes remotely using the Off Campus schedule. Classes will begin at 8:30. Today is a B day which means periods 6-9 will meet. Our campus will remain closed today until we are given the all-clear by Campus Operations and Campus Security.”
Almost immediately after that email was sent, students began receiving emails from their teachers with Zoom links and further instructions. To some students, who had not been scheduled to attend class until after 11:50 am, this news of class beginning at 8:30 am was less than an exciting development. Within that group, some students, unaware that they were supposed to be in class until they saw the updates when they woke up, missed the beginning of their day, asleep.
Additionally, some teachers, planning to come into school, found themselves without their chargers and others without their computers. Adapting, they found other ways to persevere with some even resorting to teaching on Zoom from their phones.
But like in many unfortunate occurrences, this story is not without its heroes. The maintenance staff at Saint Ignatius who discovered the fire, according to the Cleveland Fire Department, closed the door of the closet that the fire was in and pulled the fire alarm, mitigating the damage that the fire was able to do. Their quick action prevented an acute situation from growing far worse and more dangerous. The firefighters, whose quick response was able to prevent any injuries from occurring, also deserve much praise.
Another unintended positive impact was that the uneaten breakfasts that had been prepared were not put to waste and instead were shared with the West Side Catholic Center across the street. John Litten, the Director of the West Side Catholic Center which has a mission of serving “all who come in need of food, clothing, shelter, advocacy, and a path to self-sufficiency”, thanked the school for the food in a tweet.
This is another unexpected event in a school year that seems at times to be everything but normal.
Please stay tuned for more updates and coverage as this story develops.