Fire erupts at Tuntutuliak school

A small fire erupted Wednesday morning at the Lewis Angapak Memorial School in Tuntutuliak.

According to Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Daniel Walker, a nearby transformer blew, cutting power to the town and sending sparks and flames shooting from the wires connected to the elementary wing. With power to the building shut off, the backup generator automatically kicked on, sending out more sparks.

“When the school generator was turned off,” Tuntutuliak Principal Zachary Bastoky said, “the flames started to die out, but there were still sparks.”

Quickly, Bastoky pulled the fire alarm and evacuated the school’s 150 students and staff.

“We were able to get everybody out of the building and accounted for in, I’d say, about two, two-and-a-half minutes,” Bastoky said.

Meanwhile, the school’s maintenance staff climbed to the scene with fire extinguishers and put out the flames and sparks, and Principal Bastoky notified the community of the situation over the VHF, or Very High Frequency radio.

School was cancelled for the rest of the day while inspectors searched for any electrical damage and smoldering materials left by the fire. The district’s mechanic will help the school’s maintenance crew repair the site.

No structural damage to the building was reported. Classes are scheduled to resume Thursday morning.