Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Fire moving into wings of school

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Monday, June 04, 2007

SUSITNA VALLEY HIGH (8:50 pm Tuesday night)--A helicopter has dumped more than 29 buckets of water on the flames, but the fire is continuing its advance into the wings of the 34-year-old school tonight.

Just before 9 pm, nearly half of the west wing was engulfed in fire and some 10 percent of the east wing was on fire. Fire crews are inside defending the east wing, and outside defending the west wing.

Su Valley High is 58 miles north of Wasilla near the community of Sunshine and 14 miles south of Talkeetna. About 200 students attend the school, including students younger than high schoolers.

Emergency Services Director Dennis Brodigan said embers from the fire set off small spot fires in the nearby forest, but those fires were extinguished. He said it appears that the fire started in the middle of the building, but the cause is not yet known.

Firefighters from across the MAT-SU Borough are trying to save the building, including Talkeetna, Meadow Lakes, Willow, Houston, Big Lake, Central, and from as far away as Butte and Palmer. The state Division of Forestry crews are also on scene. A Forestry helicopter crew has been dumping water.

A $5.5 million roof reconstruction and structural upgrade project was underway for the building. Su Valley High is valued at $13.23 million and its contents, $691,000, according to Finance Director Tammy Clayton.

For more information call Patty Sullivan, Public Affairs Manager, (907) 745-9577.