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Nearby house fire forces school evacuation in Bird Island

BIRD ISLAND -- Students were evacuated and school closed early Wednesday at the BOLD Elementary School and St. Mary's School after a neighboring house fire filled the buildings with smoke.

About 350 BOLD youngsters in K-6 were bused to United Methodist Church, three blocks away, where they spent part of the morning with their teachers. Students from St. Mary's were taken to St. Mary's Church.

Officials at both schools called off classes for the rest of the day at 9:45 a.m. BOLD students who hadn't yet been picked up by their parents were then bused to the Olivia campus.

Students and staff weren't in any immediate danger from the fire, but school officials were concerned about the smoke, said BOLD Supt. Tom Farrell.

There was heavy smoke from the burning house, which was across the street west of the elementary school, he said. "The smoke had pretty much permeated all the building."

The fire was first noticed around 8:30 a.m. by Kip Lynk, BOLD elementary principal, who saw smoke coming from the house.

"He went over to investigate it. Actually there was an individual inside the house, sleeping," Farrell said.

He said Lynk roused the resident, got the house evacuated and called 911.

"He's kind of our hero today," he said, noting that the fire had already begun to spread through the house.

No injuries were reported, but the house was believed to be a total loss.