Murrayville-Woodson School Day Cancelled After Small Fire Next to Building Overnight

By Jeremy Coumbes on April 28, 2023 at 1:14pm

File Photo, Murrayville-Woodson Elementary

Students of an area elementary school received an unexpected day off today after a report of a possible fire.

According to an announcement by Jacksonville School District 117 this morning, classes at Murrayville-Woodson Elementary were canceled around 7:00 am after staff noticed extremely strong fumes in the building.

District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek says the fumes and smell were caused by a small fire that occurred overnight just outside the school building. “Murrayville-Woodson is undergoing a roofing project and it appears that some of the equipment that the roofing company has that was on the ground right in front of the center of the main building somehow caught fire last night.

They said that on the [surveillance] camera it looks like a lightning bolt. It didn’t get hit by lightning but there was a small explosion basically. It caught fire and it burnt the bush that was out in front of the building and the Murrayville-Woodson Elementary sign.

From that, it was right next to the building, so that entire portion of the building was filled with the smoke and the fumes from that fire, and we just knew that it wasn’t good to have the kids in the school today.”

Murrayville Fire Department personnel were on scene and an investigator with the Office of the Illinois Fire Marshal has been called in to investigate how the fire could have started.

Ptacek says school is out today, but there is no reason why they will not resume on Monday. “There’s no long-term damage to the building. There’s even a hamster in the room right by the window by the fire which is fine. So there’s nothing going to be long-term with the building. But just right now while that building is in the shape it’s in we just felt it was in the best interest to not have the kids in there today.”

No one was injured in the incident and investigation into the cause remains ongoing. Ptacek says the off day for Murrayville-Woodson will not need to be made up at the end of the school year. Districts with multiple school buildings that call off class for one building due to an emergency do not have to make up the day for that one building.

Ptacek praised the job done by Murrayville-Woodson staff this morning, especially the bus drivers who had to change course and return students home mid-route. He says in these cases students are only dropped off with a parent at home, and in this case, all were able to be dropped off.