S.D. Firefighter Hurt During Devastating School Fire

A Hoven firefighter was airlifted to a hospital during a fire at the junior and senior high school that had firefighters and equipment from a dozen department battling.

May 26--Firefighters remain on the scene this afternoon at the combined junior and senior high school in Hoven after a fire that started early Sunday morning badly damaged the building.

Two firefighters are at the school at all times, said Hoven firefighter Rick Schaefer. He said crews are putting out hot spots that pop up, including one today in the location of old school stage.

There's no reason to suspect foul play, Schaefer said, but the cause of the fire is still not known. Officials from the state fire marshal's office are expected to arrive today, he said.

It's not known where the fire started, but flames were coming out of the electrical room when firefighters arrived about 12:45 a.m. Sunday, Schaefer said. The heat emitted by the fire was intense, he said.

One Hoven firefighter was taken by ambulance Sunday to the hospital in Bowdle, then flown to an Aberdeen hospital, Schaefer said. He didn't know exactly what the problem was, but said the firefighter did not remember responding to the call even though he was at the scene all night.

Schaefer estimated that more than 100 people helped fight the fire in some way. That includes firefighters from 12 departments, law enforcement officers, emergency responders and farmers and ranchers who hauled water to the school, he said.

Sometime after the fire started, Schaefer said, the main water line into the school ruptured resulting in decreased water pressure. Between 5 and 6 Sunday morning, the pressure was restored. Before it was, other fire departments, farmers and ranchers were hauling trucks full of water to the scene. The water was then dumped into tanks with a capacity of 4,500 gallons, then pumped onto the flames, he said.

During the fire, flaming tar paper floated through the air and landed on trees and buildings to the north of the school, Schaefer said. One tree started to burn, but crews quickly sprayed it and other areas to keep them safe and to prevent the fire from spreading, he said.

By noon today, folks in Hoven were selling purple Hoven Greyhounds t-shirts with proceeds going to help the badly-damaged school. The shirts cost $15 each. For more information about the shirts, call Tara Heuer at (605) 281-0924 or Kim Hoerner: (605) 769-0292.

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Copyright 2014 - American News, Aberdeen, S.D.