Quick response mitigates auditorium fire damages

Sophia Paranzino, Editor-in-Chief

A curtain in the Dulaney High School auditorium caught on fire after school hours on Monday, September 13.On Monday, September 13, a curtain caught on fire in the Dulaney High School auditorium after school hours. The Dulaney Theater Company had been meeting to discuss preparations for their upcoming production when a stage curtain started smoking. The large stage lights were turned on and in less than five minutes the direct heat from the lights ignited the curtain. 

“Right behind the curtain we have light trees. And so on those light trees are really big lights. The curtain was really close to the bottom light and that’s what was smoking,” said music director Christina Senita.

The fire alarm was triggered but school administrators did not immediately recognize the problem.

Principal Samuel Wynkoop said, “this particular fire alarm is one that has been fixed many times.” 

The frequent issues with the fire alarm system at Dulaney caused Wynkoop and his team to be unsure if the alarm was the result of an actual fire. Fortunately, the custodian Calvin ? (need to get his last name) smelled smoke and alerted the administrators that the fire was real.

“Mr. Parker and I just sprinted toward the auditorium,” said Wynkoop.

Meanwhile, the situation with the smoking curtain in the auditorium escalated.

Student Zoe Horn said “it was just smoking and then as I was rounding the corner, all of the sudden the curtain burst into flame.”

As the fire department was on its way, the efforts of the present teachers, including theater director Tamara Moon, helped get students safely outside.

“Then Parker comes in and starts taking over with the fire extinguisher. He was amazing. Then Mr. Wynkoop comes in. And literally I think it could have been much worse but Mr. Parker, he really was the hero of the day. He emptied the first fire extinguisher and Mr. Wynkoop had gone and gotten a second one and then they were on the second one when the fire trucks pulled up” said Moon.

The fire department was able to quickly extinguish the fire but remained at the school to remove the smoke.

“The smoke smelled really strong, almost like burning carpet,” said sound chief Johnathan Zhang.

The auditorium became closed indefinitely in order to repair the damages from the fire.

Wynkoop said, “The ceiling tiles were a casualty of the smoke and that’s really what most of the damage is. If you looked at [the auditorium] physically, you’d see some marks and stuff but it’s not widespread.”

The disaster response company SERVPRO was hired to restore the auditorium. Part of their job was to go through and thoroughly tally all of the damage that needed to be repaired or replaced. The auditorium is expected to be open for the fall performances.

“I’m feeling very grateful for the teachers that were down there with the kids. They got everyone out of the building. I feel very grateful that I have a team like Mr. Parker and Calvin the custodian who ran toward the trouble to take care of it. I’m very happy about the overwhelming response by the fire department,” said Wynkoop.