Last Monday, April 11, was a decently routine school day at Cathedral Prep. The final bell rang at 2:53 p.m., as it always does, and the students left their respective 8th period classes, planning to do whatever it is that they choose to do during their after school hours. Upon exiting the building, however, something was different. A thick, bellowing cloud of grayish-black smoke began filling the skyline. It was an otherwise temperate day, with decently clear skies, mild winds, and an expected chilly climate. This quickly emerging, smoglike cloud was anything but expected.
Naturally, a decent number of Cathedral Prep’s students, students’ parents, and faculty/staff were concerned with what the source of this smoke might be. Some of the more curious Cathedral Prep seniors decided to investigate. “Holy smokes, there’s smoke,” senior David Rahner remembered thinking to himself upon noticing the cloud. “You know what a man of Prep would do in this situation? [He] Lends a helping hand,” he concluded. Within no time, Rahner and a good bit of his Cathedral Prep classmates found themselves attempting to investigate what the source of the smoke might be.
Finally, the cause was discovered. A two-block-long warehouse located on 1336 W. 20th St. was engulfed in flames. According to Erie Fire Department chief fire inspector Guy Santone, the fire appeared to have started in a “hallway” area connecting a 20,046-square-foot building on the western edge of the property to other buildings, totaling roughly 53,000 square feet of property. The eastern buildings were completely floored by the fire, while the western buildings remained somewhat less scathed from the disaster.
No one is yet aware of the causes of this fire was, but it is known that winds wading from the west, along with the contents of the factory—around 90 truck loads of mattresses—definitely enforced the flames’ course. The mattresses filling these particular warehouse were the result of a failed transaction between two businesses as one of the business ironically went out of business. Guy Santone is planning to meet with Andy Zimmerman, Erie’s manager of code enforcement, to discuss potentially tearing down the building.
Regardless, this fire, reported only seven minutes after dismissal did not spread to the neighboring residences in the area. Some of the neighboring houses’ residents watered down the sides of their houses in order to protect the houses from the flames’ heat. In the end, the Cathedral Prep students who helped to extinguish the fire succeeded. Taking the initiative to help as partners with Deputy Fire Chief Mike Balliey and his crew, the majority of flames were eventually extinguished. After this time, it was safe for the entire crew to leave the destination.