LIVINGSTON PARISH, La. (BRPROUD) — A large fire Friday at Live Oak Junior High forces the gym to be temporarily closed until further notice.
According to officials, around 9:50 a.m. on Friday morning, Livingston Parish Fire Department received a call that the school’s gym roof was on fire. The team called for extra backup to help contain the fire.
Fire officials said the gym’s interior was destroyed by fire, smoke and water damage. While crews fought flames, officials said the fire caused the roof to become insecure, causing firefighters to abandon their work on the inside of the building at one point and only fight the blaze from the outside.
“We faced a lot of challenges,” said Livingston Parish Fire Protection District 4 Fire Chief James Wascom. “We initially began with an interior attack till the roof got too weak and we went to an exterior attack at that point.”
Wascom said fire responders managed to get the blaze under control by 12:02 p.m. He said small fires continued within the structure for some time after, but that there was no risk of those fires spreading.
Thankfully, there was no one inside the gym during the fire. Due to extreme heat, a couple of firefighters on the scene were pulled aside to check for heat exhaustion but they are in good health, according to the chief.
A spokesperson for the Livingston Parish school district said the gym was scheduled to host summer camps. However, due to the total loss of the gym, the camps will most likely move to a nearby school.
A press release was sent out Friday night by the school system regarding more details about the fire.
“This is a tragic loss for the Watson community, as this building certainly holds many memories for so many,” said Livingston Schools Superintendent Joe Murphy. “We are grateful that no one was injured, and we want to thank the 70-plus men and women who quickly responded to quench the fire and save the other buildings on our campus from being damaged.”
“We’re going to do everything we can to find the cause of the fire, we’re working with the school board to get that done,” said Wascom.
Early reports from the weather service said the fire may have started because of a lightning strike. Authorities continue their investigation into the fire.