Updated 07/05/2012 05:00 PM
Fire at Livonia Elementary School
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Terrence Prather says he didn't have much time to think.
"When I saw the fire, get the guys from up off the roof."
Terrance was one of several men assigned to a renovation project to replace the roof at the Livonia Elementary School in Livingston County. When he spotted the flames, he took action.
The Livingston County Health Department is warning residents who live near the Livonia Elementary School that hazardous material from the fire may have blown into area yards.
The Health Department says the material may be toxic and crews will be working to collect the debris. If you find debris on your property, you can call the Livingston County Health Department before 6 o'clock at 243-7280. After 6 p.m., call the Sheriff's Department at 243-7100 and ask for the public health duty officer.
The Health Department says if you must remove the debris, wear gloves, avoid contact and wash your hands with soap and water.
"I just grabbed a ladder from the burning side and put it on the clear side so the fellas could get down," said Prather. "Everybody was wondering if everybody was alright."
When firefighters arrived on scene, they were greeted by plenty of smoke and flames shooting from the roof. Assistant Fire Chief Brad Austin of the Livonia Fire Department told YNN the initial call came in for a problem with a generator. It was being used by construction workers when it exploded and set fire to roofing materials.
"The intial companies got here, they had a large fire on the roof which spread that way, and we had to dump quite a bit of water on it, to get the roof out,” Austin said.
Some 150 firefighters from ten companies made quick work by getting the flames under control, and they did so under tough conditions, as they had to also cope with the hot temperatures.
There were some maintenance workers inside the building at the time of the fire, along with some district employees. Everyone made it out safely.
Scott Bischoping, the superintendent of schools, said the district was using these summer months to replace the school roof, as part of a capital project.
"It's still early in the summer so we have to wait and see. In the worst way, I want to get into the building and see, but we're certainly optimistic that the fire departments did a great job of containing it,” said Bischoping.
Although school is not in session right now, Livonia Elementary is hosting a summer recreational program for children. But fortunately, the kids today were at an off-site location.
"We didn't have to worry about getting them out of the buildings or about parents worrying about what was happening to their students. They're all safe and having fun."
The school district credits the many firefighters for containing the blaze before it spread out of control.
"We're certainly happy that they responded the way they did, and took care of it in that fashion."