An early morning fire severely damaged Mitchell Elementary School and caused the gymnasium roof to collapse, reports The Journal Times.
The fire is now under control. School has been canceled for today and Friday for the elementary school, 2713 Drexel Ave., and the adjoining middle school, 2701 Drexel Ave.
Firefighters were called to the school at 1:44 a.m. The first to respond entered the elementary school from the south end and found smoke in a hallway, said Racine Fire Chief Steve Hansen.
“They advanced a hose line (into the building) to fight a potential fire,” he said. “They got up to the gymnasium doors where a fire was burning, when there was a structural collapse inside the gym. The ceiling came down.”
Luckily, no firefighters were injured in the collapse, he said.
They evacuated the building and began fighting the fire from the outside, using aerial ladders, Hansen said.
The fire was brought under control by about 4:30 a.m. Crews were still treating some “hot spots” around 7 a.m., according to Hansen.
Roads surrounding the school were still blocked off shortly before 9:30 a.m.
The near-zero outside temperatures complicated the process. Some hose lines were freezing and water was making streets and sidewalks slick, Hansen said.
One firefighter slipped and fell. He was taken to the hospital and released, he said.
Other firefighters experienced frostbite symptoms and had to spend time inside to warm up, Hansen added.
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