A Tuesday morning blaze at Sharon Elementary School, 520 N. 400 East, is still under investigation, and officials believe the fire was deliberately set.
The fire started shortly after 11 a.m. in the school auditorium when some prop materials, evidently cardboard sets used in either stage productions or in classrooms, started smoldering. The small fire spread to curtains and the auditorium's back wall.Pupils were in class at the time. The school was evacuated while Principal Daniel Adams and the school's custodial staff fought the blaze with fire extinguishers. By the time Orem Fire Department crews arrived - approximately 11:16 a.m. - the fire was under control and nearly extinguished, though crews removed the stage curtains and "mopped up a few hot spots," said Captain Don Rieske of Fire Station No. 2.
"The school's teachers and principal did a very good job evacuating the students and fighting the fire," Rieske said. "When we got there, most of the job had already been done."
Some pupils who missed lunch because of the fire were bused to Aspen Elementary School for their afternoon meals and regular classes resumed for some of the children at about 1:45 p.m.
Though pupils normally discharged at 2 p.m. left school at the regular time, some children remained in school for safety reasons, according to Alpine School District Business Administrator Jack McKelvy.
"When you let kids go, there may not be any parents at home, and sometimes they may be more in jeopardy - you may be asking for trouble," McKelvy said. "So instead we kept the kids there all day - some in the multipurpose room and others were outside playing because of the nicer weather."
Pupils and parents alike were notified that regular classes would resume on Wednesday, McKelvy said. "There's really no reason why most things won't return to normal."
Orem Fire Marshal Larry Ballard, who is investigating the fire, said the blaze was deliberately set. "It was confined to an area on the stage and was definitely suspicious."
The props, located on the stage's back area, could not have ignited by themselves and must have been set on fire, Ballard said. "Nothing else could have set that material off."