Alhambra High School
Alhambra Unified School District employees were working Friday to prepare Alhambra High School for the start of school after a fire in the early hours of Jan. 2 damaged the A building. Classes will resume as scheduled on Monday.
Units of the Alhambra Fire Department received the alarm at about 2:30 a.m. and responded quickly knocking down the fire in about 30 minutes. There were no reports of injuries.
In a message to staff and community, AUSD Superintendent Denise R. Jaramillo said she believed that this was “the biggest fire we have dealt with during my 33 years with the district.”
Jaramillo wrote that the fire started in the Student Services Office of the A Building. Alhambra Fire is investigating the cause of the fire but initial reports indicate that a space heater was left on under a desk.
Two offices in the A Building sustained serious fire damage, Jaramillo wrote, but due to water damage, smoke damage and related abatement, the entire building will be unusable for the foreseeable future most likely the rest of the school year. This building contains the Student Services offices, Health Office Attendance Office, Welcome Center and four upstairs classrooms.
District officials have identified space on the Alhambra High campus to relocate all of the classrooms and office operations. Facilities staff is currently cleaning up each of the rooms and getting furniture in place for the start of school Monday. The Dream Center, which offers a safe space for undocumented students and their supporters, is not located in the A Building and was not directly impacted by the fire. However, some of its services may be slightly adjusted to accommodate the relocation of classes and school services from the A Building, Javier Gutierrez, Social Science Department Chair at AHS, told Alhambra Source.
The A building will be fenced off to limit student or staff access and so that Servpro, the fire restoration company, can begin cleanup operations.
The school district sent electronic written notices to all AHS staff, parents, and students advising of the situation and assuring all that school will open as scheduled on Monday.
Additional communications will go out over the weekend.
In addition, there will be a dedicated “Fire Watch” on campus 24/7 as required by law until further notice. AUSD is working with Alhambra Fire on facilitating this. Testing of the bell and alarm system will continue throughout the weekend so systems will be operational on Monday.
In her message to the community, Jaramillo thanked District Administrators and District Security for responding in the early hours of Jan. 2 to assess the damage and aid AFD units. She also sent a message to city thanking the Alhambra Fire Department for its quick and efficient response.
She also thanked AUSD Board Member Wing K. Ho for being on scene and helping with a variety of post-incident decisions and planning.
“I’m sure there will be some wrinkles in the first few days but we will work through them,” Jaramillo wrote.