Work underway to repair fire damage at Columbus North

Cleanup is underway at Columbus North High School’s Erne Auditorium after a Monday morning fire destroyed about 25 seats.

Bartholomew Consolidated Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts explains that there was minimal fire damage but there was extensive smoke damage.

“There is a lot of work being done in there, but we are hoping to get that taken of as soon as possible — maybe even by the end of January, if things progress,” Roberts said.

The school district was already planning some renovation work in the auditorium for next year.

He praised school officials who got the fire out before firefighters even arrived and others who are working to clean up the mess.

The cause of the fire was an overhead light bulb that burst, sending superheated glass into a plastic cover that then melted and dripped molten plastic onto the seating below, igniting the fire.

Capt. Mike Wilson with the Columbus Fire Department said the department has been researching the metal halide lighting involved and such incidents are extremely rare. The department’s investigators have procured one of the overhead lights and some of the seating and plan to experiment to see if they can recreate the incident, Wilson said.

Several events have had to be rescheduled or moved due to the fire. The Columbus Indiana Philharmonic is moving two holiday concerts by the Wright Brothers to Robbins Auditorium at Columbus East High School. Those will be at 3 and 7 on Sunday and seating will all be general admission.

Dancers Studio Inc. also announced that it will be moving next week’s performances of the Nutcracker to East High School’s auditorium. The performances will be on Saturday, Dec. 17th instead of the 18th as originally planned.