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West Hall High classes are on for Monday

Power to be restored at high school today after Thursday fire

POSTED: December 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Hall County school administrators say they are 90 percent confident that West Hall High School will hold classes on schedule Monday following an electrical blaze Thursday night that left the school powerless and kept students out of school Friday.

Jackson EMC crews installed a new transformer Friday in the high school’s electrical room, which is detached from the main school building at 5506 McEver Road.

The fire was contained just outside the electrical room in a fenced-in area on the north side of the building, where a massive pad-mounted transformer burned.

K.D. Graham, spokeswoman for Jackson EMC, said the company is planning to switch the power back on at West Hall High at about 3 p.m. today once electrical contractors restore the wiring infrastructure at the school.

Gordon Higgins, spokesman for Hall County schools, said the fire apparently started just before 6 p.m. Thursday.

The school building sustained some smoke damage in one hallway, but no major damage is apparent. No one was injured.

Classes were canceled Friday due to the lack of power in the building.

Higgins said the fire broke out when power was restored to the building after electricians with Cochran Brothers Electric removed a damaged surge protector. He said it seems the damage to the wires is consistent with lightning damage that could have taken place at any time in the past.

Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell said once the electric company cut power to the transformer, four stations’ firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze within three minutes. Kimbrell said oils leaking from a component of the faulty transformer fueled the electrical sparks that ignited the fire.

Higgins said school workers first noticed something was wrong with the electricity at the school at about 11 a.m. Thursday. Students were temporarily evacuated to the gym as a precaution.

"They just knew there was some arcing with the lights blinking on and off," he said.

Higgins said if the electrical work goes according to plans, power should be restored to the school by this afternoon, and classes will take place as usual Monday.

He said, however, the school system is reviewing contingency plans that may require students to attend regular classes Monday at Gainesville State College’s nearby Oakwood campus if the power is not restored.

"We’re definitely going to have school Monday," Higgins said.



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