Dec. 13, 2002 – An alert neighbor living near Lew Muckle Elementary School called the Fire Service Thursday night after spotting smoke coming from a classroom window. Firefighters responding to the scene quickly doused a blaze they say was caused by holiday decorations left turned on after the school had closed for the day.
"In a matter of 15 minutes, everything was extinguished and the fire was secured," St. Croix Fire Chief Roberto Santos said on Friday.
The first-floor classroom sustained smoke and water damage and broken louvers where firefighters first spotted the smoke. Louvers also were broken on the second floor where they broke in to check for signs of spreading fire.
Muckle School workers cleaned up the mess on Friday morning and got the room ready for use on Monday. "The classroom was slightly damaged. Our in-house maintenance crew has already taken car of it," St. Croix district Superintendent Terrence Joseph said Friday.
Joseph said it was the brother-in-law of Muckle Principal Deborah Rogers, who lives near the school, who noticed the smoke and alerted authorities.
Joseph said he didn't want to be a Scrooge, but he would discourage the use of other electrically powered Christmas decorations in the school. "I think we have to be careful like that," he said. He also said it was the first time he was aware of a fire at a public school on St. Croix.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.