By The 411 News
Gary Fire Chief Mark Terry has released a statement regarding the Emerson High School fire on December 9, which caused significant damage and was not put out until Sunday morning.
The Gary Fire Department was called to the Emerson High School fire last night, at about 9:45 pm. It occurred at 716 E. 7th Avenue. The Emerson Building was originally built in 1908 as a four-story brick building measuring 250’x185.
The building closed down in 2008, when Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts moved into the old Kennedy King Middle School Building. Since then, the building has remained vacant. In December 2020, the property was sold to Gary Housing Authority. The building had no utilities connected.
Fire crews were on the scene in 3 minutes. They found fire spread rapidly across the width of the building. The flames were aided by winds blowing from the west at 20mph. Firefighters entered to assess the situation and search for victims.
As the flames advanced, the firefighters withdrew and began an external attack using elevated master streams. The incident command called for a second alarm and asked 2 mutual aid truck companies that could assist. The scene was flooded with 15 fire engines, including aerial truck units from Merrillville and Munster.
The American Red Cross also provided Canteen services and Rehabilitation for the firefighters who were working at the scene.
Heavy equipment was brought to the scene in order to remove the concrete barricades that were blocking the access to the rear side (north). After the barricades were removed, a high-pressure stream of water was placed to the north of the building in order to reach the flames that weren’t within the reach of companies at the front.
When I first arrived, it was heartbreaking to see the damage done to Emerson. The building is so rich in history for so many people from Gary. Many of my fondest memories are from events I attended here when my son studied here.
This school is the birthplace of the modern education system. It was also the first in the nation to install a pool. Many famous people have walked these halls.
The Fire Department will process the scene and continue the investigation into the cause and origin of the fire. The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office. Building damage was severe, including the collapse of a large portion of its roof. Before the fire, this building had been deemed uninhabitable. No injuries were reported to either firemen or civilians.”
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