Crews continue cleanup after Apollo High School fire; cause and total cost still unknown


Although a July 11 fire at Apollo High School was contained to one classroom, crews are still working to clean up the mess a few weeks later — and the district still does not know an exact cause of the fire.

Fire crews were called to the high school for the small fire about 7 p.m. July 11.

Mike Post, fire marshal for St. Cloud, said the fire is not classified as a criminal fire.

“We believe that it’s an accidental fire. It’s construction-related,” Post said. “We yield to the insurance co-investigators at this point.”

Post said insurance investigators conducted a joint inspection last week, and the fire department is waiting for results.

The fire was in the B wing — the middle section of the school — where crews were replacing the heating and cooling systems, according to Gary Ganje, executive director of operations for the district.

That wing has a variety of classrooms, including English language, business and foreign language classrooms. As part of the construction process, the rooms had been cleared of furniture and curriculum materials, Ganje said.

Although the fire was contained to a single classroom in the 600-wing, several other classrooms and hallways were damaged by smoke. That part of the school is still closed as the investigation continues and the district works with its insurance company, Ganje said.

“Smoke leaves residue and so we want to ensure that the environment is safe for both students and staff,” Ganje said. “And the focus right now is getting that residue cleaned up.”

The new equipment complicated the cleanup because the district needed to be sure cleaning newly installed equipment wouldn’t affect the equipment’s factory warranty.

“We’re working with the insurance companies and industrial hygienist and representatives from different pieces of the HVAC system,” Ganje said. “It’s getting all the folks coming in to make that determination.”

Ganje said the district still doesn’t have a cost estimate for the damage, but he expects to know more in a few weeks.

Much of the HVAC work is on hold, however, until the cleanup is completed to avoid cross-contamination.

“We keep monitoring it each day. Our No. 1 goal is to ensure the safety of students and staff,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to stay on schedule with the HVAC project and school opening.”

The first day of school at Apollo is Tuesday, Sept. 4 for freshmen and new students, and Wednesday, Sept. 5 for the rest of the student body.