Last Monday night was rare – everything that could have gone right, did.
During a violent electrical storm and torrential downpour in El Dorado Springs, a tremendous bolt of lightning struck the school about 11 p.m.
First good break – Tammy Berning and Dennis Berning, custodians at the El Dorado Springs R-II School, decided to take a look outside to see what had been hit. They discovered a fire just getting started on the northeast roof of the Old Gym. They called the fire department, of course.
Second good break – the El Dorado Springs Volunteer Fire Department also does storm watching so the firemen were already at the Fire Station. They responded to the fire call in minutes.
Fire Chief Bob Floyd said his department always calls in a Utility Department bucket truck when there is a structure fire. A Utility Department crew was just backing a bucket truck into its bay when they heard the lightning strike and figured they’d be called out again. They also responded in minutes to give the firefighters “a lift” to fight the blaze.
Sean Cook, who lives near the school, heard and felt the lightening strike. The concussion knocked down canned goods he had stacked in his cupboard.
He looked out and could hardly believe what he saw – firemen on the roof of the gym fighting the blaze with lightening striking all around.
The Sun asked City Manager Bruce Rogers which Utility workers responded to the fire call. He said Fire Chief Bob Floyd was on scene and would know.
The fire chief declined to start giving a list for fear he would leave someone out. Likewise he declined to list firemen who so quickly quelled the fire saying it was a team effort.
El Dorado Springs R-II Superintendent Mark Koca was lavish in his praise for the firemen and the utility workers and his own employees who caught the fire in the beginning stages. Supt. Koca said that if the fire had gotten into the 1×6 1939 boards that make up the trusses for the Old Gym, there would have been no stopping it. He complimented the firemen on their careful use of water to keep from ruining the gym floor.
Then, he said, when the fire was out, the firemen stayed to help fasten tarps in place to cover the damaged roof.
Supt. Koca said what the lightening struck was one of those roof-ventilating units that is wind activated.
He summed up his praise for the community effort, “Only in a small town.”
Supt. Koca said the school did not completely escape damage. He estimated that the lightning bolt did $120,000 to $150,000 damage to electronic devices in the school, but all are insured. At last report, he was waiting on the arrival of an insurance adjuster. He did say that all the school’s computer servers were protected and survived unscathed. Most of the school records are stored off site.
The thank you note from the school says, “A huge thank you to the El Dorado Springs Fire Department and to the workers from the City of El Dorado Springs who responded to our roof fire during the storm last Monday night. They handled it quickly, professionally and with a minimum of damage to the rest of the building. They even helped get a temporary cover over the damage to keep the storm water out. You guys are awesome. Students, Staff and Administration, El Dorado Springs R-2 Schools.”