Fwd: Fire Put Out at Saguaro High Auditorium

mbenonis

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I got this from the Stagecraft list-serv. Please, please, please hang your lights with care and keep fabric away from them!

This happened Friday at Saguaro High School in Scottsdale.

Here are two stories about it

Fire put out at Saguaro High auditorium
Codie Sanchez
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 23, 2007 09:35 PM

A fire broke out in the auditorium of Saguaro High School in Scottsdale Friday evening, sending 13 fire department units to the scene.

No one was injured.

Students were inside the auditorium preparing for a musical when they noticed a haze and strange odor filling the room. The students and staff members were able to evacuate safely.

The fire started at about 5:15 p.m. in the curtains of the auditorium of the high school, the Scottsdale Fire Department said However the quick response of fire units and automatic sprinkler system quickly put out the fire.

When the fire officials arrived, black smoke billowed from the auditorium. Forty to fifty firefighters from multiple units arrived on the scene to put out the 1st alarm fire, officials said.

Fire officials checked the nearby buildings and were able to contain the fire. A damage estimate is not yet available.


and from today, with the cause:

Fire forces high school to rebuild stage floor
Amanda Keim, Tribune
Saguaro High School's stage floor will have to be replaced after a fire that broke out in the auditorium Friday caused $40,000 worth of water and fire damage.

The fire was caused by a curtain that was too close to some stage lights in the building at 6250 N. 82nd St., said Patty Jo Angelini, Scottsdale Fire Department public education officer. [emphesis added by mbenonis]

While sprinklers were able to contain the fire damage to a light and the side curtain that caught fire, the waterlogged stage floor will have to be completely replaced, said Maureen O'Leary, Scottsdale Unified School District spokeswoman.

"There was just so much water damage that they weren't able to save it," O'Leary said. "The sprinklers did their job, but at the cost of the stage floor."

School security called 911 at 5:15 p.m. on Friday to report the first-alarm fire, Angelini said.

About 40 to 50 firefighters from Scottsdale, Tempe and Phoenix responded to the blaze, Angelini said. The fire was put out about 10 minutes after crews arrived.

The fire was being extinguished as the school's varsity choir, Voices of Saguaro, was arriving for a concert and silent auction to raise money for a trip to Washington, D.C.

The choir had to leave several instruments behind on the stage, but was able to perform part of its show in the school's cafeteria, O'Leary said.

All of the instruments were saved, she added.

It should take three to four weeks to install a new permanent stage floor in the auditorium, O'Leary said.

Until then, the school is fitting a temporary floor on the stage so school groups and other groups who rent the space will be able to use it, O'Leary said.

"Right now the auditorium is completely open and available and usable," O'Leary said. "It's just the stage floor."

It should be noted that this is the most common cause of fires on stage.

Jerry Gorrell
Theatre Safety Programs
 

icewolf08

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This is why the theatre gods invented Zetex (well actually NewTex did), it really saves drops. I just did a show where the designer decided that he was going to focus about 50% of the backlight through the borders. Needless to say, even though he was warned we burned two holes in the border (our production manager was not thrilled). It is always great when you have to stop a rehearsal o drag out ladders and spray bottles to put out smoldering drops. So, I spent an afternoon hanging Zetex and attempting to refocus a little.

I start to wonder, when you tell a designer that they are loosing around 50% of the light from a bunch of fixtures into a border and they say, "But I need that light" and they never run it at more that 60% intensity, what are they thinking? Well, we bought a new border and all is well again, zetex to the rescue.

This news story makes me wonder if this particular school's soft goods were flame treated. We never would have ended up with open flames in my situation, the border just smoldered.
 
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gafftaper

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You know what that High School needed was a system where you turn off the fire alarms in the theater and the drama teacher gets a secret code word announcement and goes to check the alarms to see where the fire is before deciding if the students should evacuate the facility.



(Don't get the joke? You haven't been spending enough time on Controlbooth).
 

Edrick

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You know what that High School needed was a system where you turn off the fire alarms in the theater and the drama teacher gets a secret code word announcement and goes to check the alarms to see where the fire is before deciding if the students should evacuate the facility.
(Don't get the joke? You haven't been spending enough time on Controlbooth).
i was about to ask if you were insane. then i read your ending part.
 

jfitzpat

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I had a very similiar experience years ago at a fund raiser for Pete Wilson at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. We basically setup four geni towers with PAR cans and a little two scene board front of house.

Wayne Newton was appearing, complete with his own 'lighting guy', who insisted that the two front (down stage r and l) trees had to be moved to outside the curtain line so that Newton could make his standard entrance. After some debate, we did it, it all looked fine, so I scored some of the $500 a plate (or whatever) chow and went to sleep next to the dimmer rack we'd stuffed in an alcove off stage right.

When I woke up, a blue haired woman was kicking me and insisting that she smelled smoke. She was right, I could smell smoke too. I sniffed the rack, the cables, then finally peeked out the door of the alcove (at the top of steps from house to stage, SR). The curtain had not been raised as high at showtime as setup, and the top row of PAR cans SR was blasting the bottom edge of the main drape - which was now openly in flames.

I did my best Christopher Lloyd impression (the *gasp* when thens go wrong in a Back to the Future movie), then ran to the back of house, where my cohort was fast asleep in a chair next to Wayne's guy - who was running the board. House lights on, we ran back to the stage and pulled out the extendable A frame ladder we had used to focus. We couldn't get it properly setup on the steps, so they held it while I climbed up with a fire extinguisher.

And, laughing aside, I could not put the @#$% fire out with the extinguisher. I was starting to have visions of a big time fire when the ladder toppled. I grabbed at the bar, dropped the extinguisher, which stuck open and started covering the stage with a cloud, and basically yanked the whole burning panel down onto the apron of the stage, where bus boys beat it and me with towels and dumped pitchers of ice water on us - all while Wayne Newton sang God Bless American and the crowd of well-to-do's clapped and cheered.

Three morals:

1. You can have money without brains - prior to that incident I thought only horses were stupid enough to stay in a burning barn.

2. Climbing an improperly setup ladder is probably always a stupid idea. I'm lucky I escaped with just a few scrapes and mild burns.

3. There is no such thing as a minor fire. That fire was tiny when I first saw it and progressed to downright scary while I was using a fire extinguisher on it.

Be Careful.

-jjf
 

BenFranske

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And now you know one of the reasons that curtains should be fireproofed. A few years back I had a student who improperly focused a PAR64 directly at a curtain a few inches away. After just a few minutes of being on it had melted a hole about 2 inches in diameter through the curtain, had it not been a fireproofed curtain I'm sure it would have caught fire. Luckily I saw it before more damage was done.
 

Van

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I have to agree with the direction of many peoples responses to this story. I think if I were a Scottsdale Fire inspector I might be paying a visit to a certain school district with a stopwatch and match. Soft good flame proofing must be maintained. You cannot simply treat it once and forget about it. Remember too that , flame proofing is just that, it keeps soft goods from flaming, they can still smolder. There are several different standards across the country for flame proofing. I beleive < don't quote me and if anyone has a NYCFD reference book look it up > the biggest standard is the NY standard of holding a swatch of the flame proofed fabric over an open flame it has to be able to resist igniting < smoldering> for 1 minute. There is something else about rate of consumption of the smoldering material I beleive. Take a look at the Rosco website I beleive they have the specs listed in the section where they sell Flamex.
White crusty soft goods means the salts in the flamex < or whatever your using> are leaching out of the material. This can be caused by several conditions. High humidity, direct exposure to moisture, age. Any time you notice soft goods with a white crust, or an excessive amount of very acrid dust billowing off them it's time to re-treat them, past time actually .
 

ship

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Also dependant upon the specific fabric, it with very few exceptions needs re-flame treating every few years. Should be a tag in the lower corner with who made the drape, what date it was flame treated and when it needs it again I believe.

This much less most need re-flame treating immediately after the drape is cleaned.

No matter the treating, none will survive an inattentive focus crew or fly person as often also the case.
 

gafftaper

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That's a nice idea, however it's impossible. Almost anything will burn at the right temperature.
Yes it's true that everything burns eventually, but a properly treated curtain should never actually flame up from the heat of a lighting instrument. It should only smolder and "melt" as BenFranske described the instruments melting a hole in his own curtain.
 

Van

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Yes it's true that everything burns eventually, but a properly treated curtain should never actually flame up from the heat of a lighting instrument. It should only smolder and "melt" as BenFranske described the instruments melting a hole in his own curtain.
besides, You know your not supposed to walk around the stage with the Oxy-acetylene cutter lit.
 

icewolf08

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Don't joke about the Oxy torch thing. When I was leaning my metal skills in college, one of my [not so great] friends managed to light the cuffs of his pants on fire while learning to cut with the oxy torch (this may have had something to do with the fact that his cuffs were very frayed). Anyway, when we noticed he was on fire and told him, he stops cutting, turns around, pointing the lit torch at the class, and asks for help. What is wrong with this picture?

Ok, done with my aside now.
 

renegadeblack

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I want to know how this happens. I've hung quite a few lights in quite a few venues and have never had any problem where any lights were about to light anything on fire. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me like you'd have to be downright stupid to find yourself in this situation.

EDIT: Actually, there was one time where we found ourselves in a slight situation. We were doing Thoroughly Modern Millie and had subtitles (actually, I guess supertitles) that were done with a projector with PowerPoint. In order to defeat the spilled light, we had put a folder in front of the projector... which started to smolder. This was during the first rehearsal when we used the projector, and since there was someone right next to it, the crisis was averted. However, in the case of stage lights, I don't see how it could happen.
 
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shiben

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I want to know how this happens. I've hung quite a few lights in quite a few venues and have never had any problem where any lights were about to light anything on fire. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me like you'd have to be downright stupid to find yourself in this situation.

EDIT: Actually, there was one time where we found ourselves in a slight situation. We were doing Thoroughly Modern Millie and had subtitles (actually, I guess supertitles) that were done with a projector with PowerPoint. In order to defeat the spilled light, we had put a folder in front of the projector... which started to smolder. This was during the first rehearsal when we used the projector, and since there was someone right next to it, the crisis was averted. However, in the case of stage lights, I don't see how it could happen.
Plenty of ways, most involving inattentiveness. Hang lights on an electric, next day while its out someone comes by with some masking or a border and its on the next pipe over, maybe less than a foot away... An LD who didnt bother to read the set designer's anything and puts a ton of lights right next to the cloth that was draping every which way... (fortunately, the cloth was already burned by the designer, so when the lights melted it it just looked more like it should.)
 

renegadeblack

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Plenty of ways, most involving inattentiveness. Hang lights on an electric, next day while its out someone comes by with some masking or a border and its on the next pipe over, maybe less than a foot away... An LD who didnt bother to read the set designer's anything and puts a ton of lights right next to the cloth that was draping every which way... (fortunately, the cloth was already burned by the designer, so when the lights melted it it just looked more like it should.)
So, in other words, by doing something stupid.
 

jstroming

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I had a very similiar experience years ago at a fund raiser for Pete Wilson at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. We basically setup four geni towers with PAR cans and a little two scene board front of house.

Wayne Newton was appearing, complete with his own 'lighting guy', who insisted that the two front (down stage r and l) trees had to be moved to outside the curtain line so that Newton could make his standard entrance. After some debate, we did it, it all looked fine, so I scored some of the $500 a plate (or whatever) chow and went to sleep next to the dimmer rack we'd stuffed in an alcove off stage right.

When I woke up, a blue haired woman was kicking me and insisting that she smelled smoke. She was right, I could smell smoke too. I sniffed the rack, the cables, then finally peeked out the door of the alcove (at the top of steps from house to stage, SR). The curtain had not been raised as high at showtime as setup, and the top row of PAR cans SR was blasting the bottom edge of the main drape - which was now openly in flames.

I did my best Christopher Lloyd impression (the *gasp* when thens go wrong in a Back to the Future movie), then ran to the back of house, where my cohort was fast asleep in a chair next to Wayne's guy - who was running the board. House lights on, we ran back to the stage and pulled out the extendable A frame ladder we had used to focus. We couldn't get it properly setup on the steps, so they held it while I climbed up with a fire extinguisher.

And, laughing aside, I could not put the @#$% fire out with the extinguisher. I was starting to have visions of a big time fire when the ladder toppled. I grabbed at the bar, dropped the extinguisher, which stuck open and started covering the stage with a cloud, and basically yanked the whole burning panel down onto the apron of the stage, where bus boys beat it and me with towels and dumped pitchers of ice water on us - all while Wayne Newton sang God Bless American and the crowd of well-to-do's clapped and cheered.

Three morals:

1. You can have money without brains - prior to that incident I thought only horses were stupid enough to stay in a burning barn.

2. Climbing an improperly setup ladder is probably always a stupid idea. I'm lucky I escaped with just a few scrapes and mild burns.

3. There is no such thing as a minor fire. That fire was tiny when I first saw it and progressed to downright scary while I was using a fire extinguisher on it.

Be Careful.

-jjf
Hmmm maybe that's why the traveler curtain at the Hyatt (now it's a hyatt) is in such bad condition! It doesn't even close all the way anymore HAHA.
 

Les

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So, in other words, by doing something stupid.
I don't speak from experience, but a traveler being brought in too far thus blocking a bank of back lights could do it also. A lighting instrument being bumped by a piece of scenery in the dark could be a culprit too.

Back when I was in high school we had these stupid legs that swiveled (swivel legs) which were hung prior to an extensive $9m renovation and reluctantly rehung by Texas Scenic after the renovation since they were like new. They recommended that we ALWAYS check the swivel legs before bringing in a batten to prevent pulling the leg down in the event that it was inadvertently put in the path of the incoming batten. But I could also see how one could easily be swiveled so as to block a high side, possibly the result of a cast member inadvertently brushing against the leg during an entrance or something.

These mistakes could be seen as stupid by us lighting techs or innocent by a cast member who is unaware of the dangers involved, especially if they weren't aware of the fact that they made the mistake. I wouldn't necessarily call them stupid, just uninformed or too unaware of their surroundings.
 
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Sayen

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I remember this - I met the teacher from that school at a state conference. According to him, if I remember correctly, it was a non-theater group using the room without permission to fly things who had brought in a soft good of some sort. The moral being that not only should we be careful about lighting placement, but fly systems need to be hard locked out for anyone not authorized.

It's been a while, but that's the second such incident in that area. I think another one of their schools had the same thing happen from a church rental.
 

Les

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I think a lot of people just don't realize how hot the beam coming out of a stage light is.
 

shiben

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I think a lot of people just don't realize how hot the beam coming out of a stage light is.
This is definitely the case. People see the gel in front of it and figure that oh its plastic, it must not be too hot. Then they grab it and have nice blisters where their hand touched the metal.