Magnolia, Ohio - East Sparta volunteer firefighters are praising Sandy Valley staff members for their quick response in preventing a fire Sunday evening in a middle school science classroom.

Captain Michael Felcyn says several coaches were there practicing with a group of students when they noticed a burning smell coming from somewhere inside the building. 

“They started searching the building, at which point they made entry into the science room where that was located at and they saw heavy smoke, which is when they called 911,” he explains.

Felcyn says the coaches quickly located a fire extinguisher and put it to use before their units arrived at the scene. 

“By the time we had gotten there, there was still quite a bit of smoke, but the fire had been controlled and was out at that point,” he says.

Felcyn says the source appeared to have been the stand of an aquarium that held several turtles and lizards. He says all but one of those animals had been removed prior to their arrival.

“We did rescue one lizard from the tank, the fire department did, which was a sweet little lizard and everybody was taking turns holding it after the fire,” he says.

Felcyn says the only damage from the incident was to the aquarium stand. He says it could have been much worse had those coaches not been in the building. 

“The school has really good training, and their staff is obviously able to think on their feet and knew what to do and caught it in time before it was a major incident,” he says. 

Superintendent David Fischer says the staff members did a great job handling the situation.

“I just can’t thank our teachers enough to take the time and the initiative to research where that smell was coming from,” he says.

Fischer is also praising the firefighters for their quick and thorough response.

“What is great about our community, again, when you say the East Sparta Fire Department, that’s made up of a lot of brave men and women from our community, many of which have a direct connection to our building and many of which are volunteers, and they give themselves and their time.”

East Sparta was assisted at the scene by the Mineral City and Bolivar fire departments. 

As for the classroom, Fischer says it’s been sealed off for the week, and the classes that meet in that wing have been relocated to another part of the campus.



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