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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 2:08 am | Fair 50º

 
 
 
 
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‘Explosion’ at Delta High Traced to Sprinkler Tampering

No serious injuries reported in incident originally reported as involving a projector

Delta High School maintenance staff clean up after a fire sprinkler was set off Friday morning in a fine arts classroom.
Delta High School maintenance staff clean up after a fire sprinkler was set off Friday morning in a fine arts classroom. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Emergency crews responded to Delta High School in Orcutt Friday on a report of an explosion, but the incident actually stemmed from a student flicking a penny which caused a blowout of a fire sprinkler, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Crews were dispatched at 7:45 a.m. to the school at 4893 Bethany Lane.

The initial report was of a structure fire, but the first units on scene reported no flames, and were told that an overhead projector had exploded, setting off fire sprinklers, said fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni. 

Told the exploded projector released some type of chemical, fire Capt. James Klosek said crews began consulting with hazardous material specialists to identify any potential concerns since students complained they were itchy. 

A firefighters works on a fire sprinkler that was activated Friday at Delta High School in Orcutt Click to view larger
A firefighters works on a fire sprinkler that was activated Friday at Delta High School in Orcutt (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

Crews also shut off the water and confirmed no fire had occurred.

"Firefighters made entry to confirm the projector issue and found out that it was, in fact, a blowout of a sprinkler head in a classroom," Klosek said.

An investigation into the incident pinpointed the cause on a student flicking a penny which struck a fire sprinkler and activated the system in the fine arts classroom without a teacher present, Klosek said.

The sprinkler activation caused some of the ceiling panels to fall, Zaniboni said.

Two ambulances were dispatched to the scene, but there did not appear to be any serious injuries, Zaniboni said.

Approximately a dozen students who were in the classroom at the time of the incident were checked by paramedics after complaining of itchiness, which authorities attribute to dust and water from the fire sprinkler system. The students were released back to the school after being assessed at the scene on the lawn north the classrooms.

A Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office deputy also was talking to students who had been in the classroom.

Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Richardson said school officials are investigating the situation and collecting student statements.

“We will take appropriate disciplinary action if needed,’’ Richardson said. “We are just gathering the facts at this time.’’

The water also caused minor damage to a second classroom.

After the incident, maintenance crews and firefighters began salvage operations to retrieve water-soaked items from the rooms.

Maintenance officials are estimating the incident cause about $20,000 in damages to property and contents.

Most of the school's approximately 300 students were evacuated to the south yard area.

School was dismissed early Friday so district workers could make sure the fire sprinkler system is operational when classes resume Monday. Parents and students have been notified.

Noozhawk North County Editor Janene Scully reported from the scene.

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story. 

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Emergency crews responded to Delta High School in Orcutt Friday on a report of an explosion. It later was determined the incident involved tampering with a fire-sprinkler system. Click to view larger
Emergency crews responded to Delta High School in Orcutt Friday on a report of an explosion. It later was determined the incident involved tampering with a fire-sprinkler system. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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