St. Petersburg High School roof fire won’t delay start of school year

The fire started during construction work on a three-story building. Firefighters from across the county were dispatched.
Published July 23
Updated July 23

ST. PETERSBURG — A roof fire that broke out at a St. Petersburg High School building on Tuesday shouldn’t delay the start of the upcoming school year, said Pinellas County School District spokesperson Lisa Wolf-Chason.

The fire was reported at about 2:15 p.m. Construction workers were using torches to melt tar and seal up the roof of a three-story building on the campus located at 2501 Fifth Ave, said St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Lt. Steve Lawrence. Fiberglass insulation caught fire and the flames quickly spread.

It took about an hour for more than 40 firefighters called in from around Pinellas County to bring the fire under control. That evening, firefighters monitored the roof, looking for pockets of heat that could result in the fire regenerating. One firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion.

The building suffered moderate damage, Lawrence said, and portions of the roof were removed. He did not know whether a fire sprinkler system was present, but said sprinklers probably would not have stopped the fire in that part of the building.

There were no students or faculty inside the building at the time. It has been has been under the care of the construction company, Creative Contractors, since June to renovate the roof and work on the Wi-Fi, plumbing and electrical system, Wolf-Chason said. There were some students on campus for volleyball tryouts Tuesday but they were sent home.

St. Petersburg High is the oldest high school in Pinellas County and historically designated. The fire affected one of its newer buildings, however.

Wolf-Chason said the damage should not affect the school's opening because the district already planned to begin the school year with the third floor closed off to students. The first two floors were not affected by the fire, though rain trickling through the open roof could still cause water damage. All Pinellas schools are set to open Aug. 14.

“Preliminary reports show that we are on track,” she said.

Contact Kavitha Surana at ksurana@tampabay.com or 727-893-8149. Follow @ksurana6.

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