Whitefield Elementary School students were dismissed early Friday after a small fire broke out in the school gymnasium.

“There’s a bit more damage to the gym floor this year,” Higgins said early Friday afternoon.

He praised the school personnel for getting students out of the building swiftly.

“There was nobody in the building when I got there, and I think my time was five minutes,” Higgins said. “The staff did a remarkable job.”

The Office of the State Fire Marshal was called to investigate, which Higgins said is required when a fire occurs in that type of building.

The main part of the school was built in 1959, and the gymnasium was added later.

On Friday, shortly before 11 a.m., Superintendent Howard Tuttle said he had few details about the fire.

“The students are next door at the Calvary Baptist Church, and we will start dismissing them at 11:15 a.m.,” he said. “We sent out a phone/email and text alert to the parents. The space is fine for an evacuation, but we can’t keep them there for the next three hours.”

Normal dismissal time is 2:30 p.m.

The gymnasium doubles as a cafeteria for the school, which has 180 students in kindergarten through eighth grade and about 35 people on its staff.

Whitefield Elementary School, on Grand Army Road, is part of Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit 12.

Firefighters from several departments responded to a report of smoke in the school gymnasium.

Town Clerk Aaron Miller, who was nearby at the Town Office, said no smoke was visible and firefighters had been at the scene since before 10:15 a.m.

Staff photographer Joe Phelan contributed to this report.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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