New Milford adjusts summer programs after high school fire as crews clear debris

NEW MILFORD — Crews on Sunday continued the nearly round-the-clock effort to clean up debris left from a large fire that erupted on the rooftop of New Milford High School last week.

In a Facebook post, New Milford Mayor Pete Bass said a crew of 50 workers spent the day removing ceiling tiles and cleaning classrooms that were damaged after the fire opened a hole and allowed several inches of water to spill into the building.

Bass said the town hired Belfor Property Restoration, a Michigan-based company that provides disaster recovery services in the wake of storms and fires, to lead the ongoing cleanup effort.

“Our contractor is working seven days a week on the project,” Bass said in the post, noting the company began assessing the damage on the same day as the fire.

More than 60 firefighters responded Tuesday afternoon to the three-story school on Danbury Road after the building caught fire while construction crews were working on the roof.

About 30 students were forced to evacuate and six firefighters suffered smoke inhalation while battling the blaze. An investigation into the cause and origin of the fire is ongoing.

In addition to stripping out dozens of ceiling tiles, Bass said the crews recently discarded shattered glass, replaced air filters and installed dehumidifiers to dry out the badly damaged building. He said crews are currently using the cafeteria to store cleaned students desks.

Bass said the contractor also received and installed 11 temporary air conditioning units at Northville Elementary School, which will allow the district to hold summer school programs originally planned for the high school at Northville.

School officials have said they are also considering holding summer programs at Schaghticoke Middle School. Bass said the school district will release more information about summer school in the near future.

Bass said the school district is weighing the possiblity of portable classrooms should much of the school still be uninhabitable by the fall. About 1,300 students will be in the high school for the 2022-23 school year.

“Everyone's goal is for our NMHS students to attend class in person. The more information we receive from the contractor (Belfor), and structural engineer, in the coming week the better we can assess the upcoming school year,” he wrote in the post.

The New Milford Town Council will discuss the roof project at 7 p.m. Monday. The New Milford Board of Education will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Schaghticoke Middle School to give an update on the roof damage.

richard.chumney@hearstmediact.com