STANFORD, Ill. (WMBD) — Olympia High School and Middle School will be going remote next week after a fire on Thursday.

Students returned to the building Thursday to get their belongings that they left behind after Thursday’s fire quickly forced them out of the building. Restoration crews and insurance agents were also inside the building assessing the damage.

Delaney Morrow, Olympia High school student, said the evacuation was not only a sudden experience, but a hectic one.

“It was a lot of black smoke, it was very thick black smoke so it was just eye catching,” Morrow said. “It was right above, right where we were probably standing so it’s on the inside so it was kind of crazy to look at and just see that none of use really expected that’s really what it was.”

According to District Superintendent Dr. Laura O’Donnell, the fire started on a solar panel on the gymnasium’s roof. She said administrators still don’t how it started.

She said there is damage to the gym’s roof and water damage to the floor, due to extinguishing the flames, but she said the fire never actually entered the building.

“The barrier and the roof stopped the fire from spreading into the building, so there were never open flames in the building,” O’Donnell said. “The damage is really from the water that they used to obviously put out the fire that then landed on our gym floor.”

“Thank God that the first responders and everybody got there on time to get it out, fairly quickly,” Morrow said.

Students and staff were able to evacuate the building in three to four minutes. The total cost of the damage caused by the fire is currently unknown.

O’Donnell said practicing safety drills multiple times a year helped with the quick exit.

“Our kids did exactly what they were supposed to do, I do think there was some kids initially who didn’t think it was real, because you couldn’t smell any smoke,” O’Donnell said.

She said it’s still unknown how long they’ll be displaced from the building, but they’ll update families once they formalize a plan.

“They do not have a timeline for us yet because they are still in the assessment phase,” O’Donnell said.

The cause of the fire is also still under investigation.

O’Donnell said students had the chance to pick up the belongings they left behind when they evacuated the building at the following times below.

High school students can pick up their materials:

  • Friday: Seniors & Juniors (noon – 1:30)
  • Friday: Sophomores & Freshman (1:30 – 3)
  • Friday: Overflow / Open (3 – 4)
  • Saturday – 10- 12 p.m.

Middle school students can pick up their materials:

  • Friday: 8th grade – (1 – 1:45)
  • Friday: 7th grade – (1:45- 2:30)
  • Friday: 6th grade – (2:30 – 3:15)
  • Friday: Overflow 3:15 – 4 p.m.
  • Saturday – 10 – 12 p.m.

O’Donnell said classes will be remote next week as the district plan for the future.