San Juan High, Blanding, UT
Contact: San Juan School District Superintendent Douglas Wright
Date of Loss: November 17, 2012
Cause of Loss:
An intense fire was started in the Main Library at San Juan High School in Blanding, Utah by thieves trying to cover their tracks while attempting to steal several computers. Smoke contamination from the fire impacted roughly 50% of the school including all the Administrative Offices, Cafeteria and Kitchen, Media Center, Counseling Center, hallways and corridors and several classrooms.
The fire occurred just before Thanksgiving Break. UDK crews were called in on Nov. 20th and the cleaning and deodorization phase of the project for all but the Library and surrounding fire damaged classrooms was completed by Nov. 26th which allowed the resumption of a nearly normal school schedule after the Thanksgiving Break. This job was unique in that over 70 people were employed by UDK during this week-long period to clean and decontaminate a very large space. Over 50% of the individuals who worked on the project were hired from the local area and the adjacent Navajo Nation and as much of the equipment and materials as could be were purchased locally which provided a needed boost to the local economy and rallied the community, city, and school district.
In addition to dealing mostly with smoke contamination and acrid odors, there was a great deal of drying to be completed following the thousands of gallons of water used to douse the flames. As UDK crews were mitigating the damage, they took care to establish barriers, and maintain engineered airflow to keep the acrid odors and smoke contamination from entering areas of the school that were not affected. A mobile electronics decontamination lab was set-up and UDK’s Electronics Decontamination and Restoration Department worked hand in hand with the School District’s IT personnel to inspect, decontaminate, and catalog office equipment, work stations, and computer tech equipment.
With the final coat of wax being applied to the floor and school memorabilia and trophies cleaned, polished and replaced in their cabinets, the students returned to school on Monday, November 26th. This quick turnaround was nothing short of a miracle and the people of Blanding, for whom the school is a significant place of pride, were overjoyed with the success of the project. The schedule required that crews work through the day on Thanksgiving Day and the generous citizens of Blanding surprised UDK crews by providing a home-cooked Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings. The meal was served at the Community Center where all UDK employees and local workers were given a standing ovation for their dedication, rapid response, and their ability to help a community in need.