Fire Cancels Classes at Mount St. Mary

Wednesday, March 11th 2009, 8:14 am
By: News 9

By Doug Warner, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Classrooms were gutted and students told not to come to school after an early morning fire took place at the oldest school in Oklahoma.

Luckily the fire was contained to one section of the Mount St. Mary Catholic High School, 2801 S. Shartel Ave., an add-on built in the '60s, and not the main building which dates back to 1903.

Arson investigators looked over the school all morning, working to determine a cause.

At about 4:45 a.m. an automatic fire alarm triggered a bevy of fire trucks and firefighters to the north end of the Mount St. Mary campus. The fire crews were able to contain the fire within minutes.

But for Mount St. Mary's resident nun, Sister Betty Elmer, and five visiting nuns sound asleep on the other end of the building, they can finally share a chuckle about what had to be one scary wake-up call.

"The firefighters were here almost immediately," Chris Stiles with Mount St. Mary High School said. "By the time sisters got out of the building, firefighters had already arrived."

The smoke-filled halls were the main culprit behind cancelling classes - since the main body of the fire was contained to one end of the building.

But in that one end, the fire was intense enough to gut two rooms. However, Chief Schmidt said the simple practice of closing doors after classes may have saved many more.

"It did heat up enough to where it did break some of the windows on the doors to the classrooms, but with those doors being shut, the fire didn't spread into the classrooms themselves," Oklahoma City Battalion Chief Dewey Schmidt said.

If, in fact, someone is behind the fire, security cameras may have captured something. Video investigators may already be viewing.

Now, a pep rally for the Mount St. Mary boys' basketball team, which is headed to state, will go on as scheduled Wednesday at 6 p.m.

An announcement could come then about when the school will re-open.