High School Resumes After Yesterdays Cafeteria Fire - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Students May Have To Brown Bag It After Cafeteria Fire

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El Monte, CA -

UPDATE TUESDAY, JANUARY 22nd: #Heartwarming! That was the "don't be depressed" feeling student government leaders wanted to create when several dozen ASB (Associated Student Body) members stood out in front of Mountain View High School this morning. They cheered and welcomed fellow students with handshakes after yesterday's big fire in their cafeteria building.

The fire destroyed the 40,000 square foot building which housed the cafeteria, school store, book room, maintenance and ASB offices. The flames ate away pictures of ASB leaders over the years and other memorabilia. To principal Keith Wheeler it was a tough blow. "A loss" he said because of all the history.

But, he said the school will move forward and that's the sentiment ASB students tried to convey this morning. As he came to work school gardner Pete Castro called it "a disaster." One student told me he cried when he saw the fire on TV. Another seemed near tears as we talked about the building one student described as "more than just a building."

LA County Fire officials say the preliminary cause of the blaze was the building's HVAC system. That's the air condition/heating system. Damage estimates ran into the millions. 8 million dollars damage for the building. 2.5 million dollars damage for the contents.

If the ASB wanted to make people feel better they succeeded. School District Superintendent Nick Salerno told me it lifted his spirits. He said everything will be fine. They'll get over this. And, as for meals, they'll be brought in as they try to find ways to return the school to some sense of normalcy.

Mountain View High School ON FIRE! That's what neighbors, students and school workers were seeing as the showed up at the El Monte High school in the predawn hours. It was around 2:30am yesterday when fire raced thru the cafeteria building. What started it? Firefighters will have to investigate to figure it out. What is clear is this was one heck of a fire.

Flames leaping high into the air. Ceiling collapses sounded like explosions as the the building fell apart. One firefighter had minor injuries. Over 100 were on the scene doing battle with this stubborn blaze. Bad as it was... it was a good thing there was no school on this King Day Holiday. Question was floating around would there be school tomorrow? Firefighters told me they'd have a lot of work to bulldoze the ruined building, but that the other buildings were not damaged by flames. Smoke may be an issue though.

School officials will have to address this issue sometime today. Rita Ferrer is the clerk of the student store. That's where teens get their dance and meal tickets. They get their PE clothes there. Things like that. She is pretty sure her store is gone. She was shocked at what she saw. She also told me the principal and assistant principal are both out of town for the long holiday weekend, but they had gotten word of the fire. It was a bad fire.

Before leaving the campus firefighters walked us up to the building to get a closer look. It was a mess. In front of it a lake from all of the water firefighters poured onto the flames to extinguish them.

One thing you wouldn't have seen on TV or on the web as we reported the story ... the overpowering smell of smoke! It seemed we were downwind and catching it all. And, the fire at Mountain View HS was a really smoky fire!

Stay Tuned!

Hal Eisner


(CNS) About 150 Los Angeles County firefighters battled this morning to keep a fire from spreading from the cafeteria of Mountain View High School in El Monte to other buildings on the campus, authorities said.

The fire was reported at 2:27 a.m. Monday morning but was already burning through the roof of the cafeteria of the school at Parkway Drive and Dahlia Avenue, said Los Angeles County Fire dispatch supervisor Ed Pickett.

One firefighter suffered a minor back injury but was not transported to a hospital for treatment, he said.

By 4 a.m., 75 firefighters were on the scene, Pickett said, and the operation had switched from an assault on the cafeteria fire to defense of the surrounding buildings. By 4:10 a.m. a third alarm fire was declared, and 150 firefighters were on the scene to aid in the defensive effort, dispatch supervisor Michael Pittman said.

At 5:40 a.m., a knockdown appeared to be "at least one hour away,'' Picket said.

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