Photo: Crews cleaning the room where a floor cleaning machine was destroyed by fire early Monday morning, May 25.
Belmont High School will be open on Tuesday, May 26, a day after a fire in a storage room next to the school’s auditorium destroyed a floor-cleaning machine and damaged the room.
“The fire started shortly before two o’clock this morning and [the entire] company went down there for an alarm investigation,” said Belmont Fire Chief David Frizzell.
“When they got there, they found smoke coming from a custodial storage room underneath the back end of the auditorium outside the hallway that runs from the cafeteria and the music department,” said Frizzell.
In flames was a battery-operated floor maintenance machine used to clean and wash the school’s floors. It’s suspected an overheated battery caused the fire. The arriving companies stretched hose lines into the building to reach the area.
The blaze destroyed the machine and resulted in smoke and water damage to the room and a thick, smokey odor throughout in the auditorium and the immediate area, said Frizzell.
In an unrelated issue, a water pipe in the recirculation system in the adjacent room “let go” resulting in the water being shut off, he said.
By early Monday afternoon, building maintenance had opened all the doors to the school and positioned fans to clear the smoke from the premise.
“Early this morning, the odor was overpowering. Now it’s so much better,” said Angela Braun, Belmont’s Health Department Director, as she visited the site.
Inside, members from a professional service company were scrubbing the walls and floors of the damaged room as water service was returned to the building.
The fire comes as the town’s Capital Budget Committee prepares to replace the existing 40 year old alarm system the Fire Department said is past its useful life. The $1 million price tag to replace the system drained the entire bonding capacity provided to Capital Budget in this year’s $4.5 million Proposition 2 1/2 override.