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Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Northalsted

Burley Elementary School In Lakeview Catches Fire, No One Injured

The fire broke out a few weeks before the school year is set to begin.

Firefighters respond to a call of a fire at Augustus H. Burley Elementary School, 1630 W. Barry Ave., on Saturday afternoon.
Image courtesy Patsy Billing.
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LAKEVIEW — The third floor of Augustus H. Burley School, 1630 W. Barry Ave., caught on fire Saturday afternoon.

“The fire alarms and sprinkler system were activated and the fire was immediately contained by the Chicago Fire Department. I am relieved to report that no one was injured,” Principal Catherine Plocher said in an email sent out to parents Saturday.                                

Burley is a CPS magnet cluster specializing in literature, writing and technology.

Larry Langford, a spokesperson for the fire department, said the large fire was reported at 1:10 p.m. Saturday and was quickly extinguished by responding fire crews. 

“They didn’t know what was burning initially but our investigation of the cause appears to be spontaneous combustion, which likely originated with some rags that had been used for some kind of stain or lacquer,” Langford said.

This time of year, some schools are refinishing their woodwork and wood floors, he said.

“Sometimes people don’t store their oily rags property. That can lead to spontaneous combustion, which is what we think happened,” Langford said. 

In a follow up email sent to parents Sunday, Plocher said the fire was contained quickly thanks to the school’s sprinkler system and responding firefighters.

“Some areas of the building were better off than others but I am happy to say that we are very fortunate,” she said.

Credit: Image courtesy Patsy Billing.
Firefighters respond to a call of a fire at Augustus H. Burley Elementary School, 1630 W. Barry Ave., on Saturday afternoon.

On Monday fire and CPS personnel were at the school but no one else is allowed in the building for the rest of the week. Plocher explained that access is being restricted while professionals remove all water from the building via “dry heat.”

Once that’s done Plocher said an assessment of the building will happen that will inform an “action plan” for the school.  

As of Monday afternoon the school’s calendar lists an open house for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students scheduled for next Thursday. Students begin the school year on Sept. 4.

School officials did not immediately return a request for more information regarding the fire or its impact on upcoming school activities.

Meanwhile the official Facebook page shared by the Burley PTA and Friends of Burley told Block Club Monday that since the assessment of the damage is ongoing no fundraising or donation initiatives in response to the fire have been discussed yet.

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