No injuries in Proviso East High School fire

Blaze began during drama performance

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Jean Lotus & Michael Romain

Editor, Editor The Village Free Press

This story has been updated to identify the correct starting location of the fire.

No one was injured in a two-alarm fire which started in a second-floor social room at Proviso East High School around 9 p.m. Saturday night. A drama performance was taking place across the hall from where the fire began, but all participants were able to exit safely.

The blaze started in a social room on the second floor of the school at 807 S. First Ave. in Maywood, said Maywood Fire Chief Craig Bronaugh. Assisting departments from more than 20 communities were on the secen including Forest Park, Northlake, Hillside, Stone Park, Franklin Park and Broadview among others. More than 100 firefighters were at the blaze, Bronaugh said. 

Emergency crews blocked off Madison Street between Village Hall in Maywood and First Avenue for almost two hours.

The second floor "social room" where the blaze began was ten feet across the hall from the auditorium, Bronaugh said. A drama performance was being staged involving between 20-30 participants.

"Thankfully, there were security guards in the hallway who noticed smoke coming from the room and pulled the fire alarm," Bronaugh said. All audience members and actors in the play were out of the building by the time firefighters arrived, Bronaugh said. 

Smoke spread to the third floor chemistry labs, Bronaugh said. Firefighters moved onto the roof and searched the inside of the building. By 10:14 the fire was deemed under control, although there was still "a lot of smoke in the building," according to dispatchers.

On the third floor, firefighters removed ceiling tiles to make sure no hidden pockets of fire remained.  They also set up large fans to blow smoke out of the building and continued to search for hot spots in hidden and adjacent parts of the building.

Tony Valente, principal at Proviso East, said that about ten rooms were damaged in the section of the building where the fire occurred. Plans are being made to relocate all classroom and office activities for this area.

A decision will be made later on Sunday regarding whether classes will be held Monday.

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