Fire destroys Porter school

Tuesday, May 16th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Not much is left of Porter Elementary School after a mid-morning fire. No one was injured in the blaze. Photo courtesy: KOTV - The News on Six.

PORTER, Okla. -- Teachers safely evacuated hundreds of school children this morning as fire engulfed Porter's elementary school and turned it to smoldering ruins.

Flames shot through the air and heavy black smoke could be seen for miles as it boiled from the old rock school building that sits on Highway 51. No one was injured.

The Porter Fire Department got the first call concerning the fire at 9:20 AM. By the time firefighters were able to get the blaze under control, more than half of the building lay in ruins. Only the shell of the building remained by late morning.

Superintendent Jim Borin said about 230 students were in the school when a teacher complained of an odor of smoke. The superintendent discovered the fire in a kindergarten room that happened to be empty because of preparations for kindergarten graduation.

"I opened the door, the flames were just engulfed all over the walls," Borin said.

Officials initially feared the fire could spread to other school buildings, including a nearby middle school. But firefighters from surrounding communities managed to contain it to the elementary.

Tammy Cook and her 9-year-old son, Teddy, watched this morning as firefighters poured water through holes in the roof.

Teddy said he was in the second-grade classroom when the fire alarm went off.

Teachers began evacuating students to the nearby high school football field and a nearby church.

"We went outside and we saw smoke everywhere," Teddy said. "The school was on fire."

School officials described an orderly evacuation. Children were taken home by bus.

Fire departments from Haskell, Coweta and Wagoner assisted fighting the fire. The school is located in Porter about 10 miles northwest of Muskogee.

Borin said elementary classes will be dismissed for the rest of the school year.

Heavy black smoke poured from the Porter school building as firefighters did their best to control the blaze. The smoke from the fire could be seen for miles. Photo courtesy: KOTV - The News on Six.