Frozen Pipes, Fire Delay Bethel School Opening

The coldest days of the year hit Bethel just as students were enjoying their winter break. With the schools empty and the temperatures dropping to more than 30 below, the stage was set for a fiasco at the high school.

That’s Janelle Vanasse, the principal at Bethel Regional High School. She says the frozen pipes were an issue not just for the high school: the freeze-up occurred in the main line that also brings plumbing into two elementary schools and the Lower Yukon School District office. With school set to resume this past Monday, they were working to quickly clear the water lines and apply heat to help thaw the sewer lines. That’s when the story of ice became one of fire.

The Friday fire caused no serious damage, outside the pipe the school was planning to replace anyway. The Bethel schools likely won’t resume classes until next week at the earliest. Weather has continued to be a factor: snowstorms and extreme cold temperatures have slowed repairs.

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