Heavy Smoke in High School Closes Sullivan County School District

LAPORTE, Pa. -- A smokey school means no school for students in Sullivan County.

Smoke could be seen coming out of Sullivan County High School in Laporte around 6 a.m. on Wednesday.

"Our maintenance staff noticed it and they pulled the fire alarm," said Sullivan County School District Superintendent Patti Cross.

Firefighters from the Laporte area showed up and soon discovered what started the fire.

"It was heavy smoke conditions. There was some fire, some flames from the panel box," said Laporte Fire Chief Daniel Morrison.

"It's an electrical box that sits in the back of the stage. It controls lighting and lighting controls throughout the auditorium," said district business manager Douglas Lindner.

Initially, the school administration called a two-hour delay.

"But then quickly found out it was much more than smoke, so we canceled school to find out what was going on," Cross explained.

The cancellation affected 623 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, many who have used the high school auditorium and stage for various events including this fashion show which Newswatch 16 covered back in February.

It took six fire departments just over an hour for firefighters to feel that everything was under control. Ventilating all of the classrooms and offices was the next task for crews.

"The smoke damage throughout the school is extensive. The whole school is full of smoke," said Chief Morrison.

Classes in the Sullivan County School District are already canceled for Thursday. The rest of the week and the official start of summer vacation are now up in the air.

Administrators are grateful no one was hurt and that the fire happened well before the school day began.

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