Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Fire Ravages Glenbrook Gymnasium

DSC_0128Construction crews thought they were prepared in the event of a fire while working at Glenbrook's H.O. West Gymnasium; however, insulation from the 1970's and wind were more than they bargained for, according to Minden Fire Chief Kip Mourad.

"It's been determined that the cause of the fire was an accident," Mourad said. "It was caused from contractors cutting outside metal using a grinder.

"They had a water hose but they probably didn't know about the paper backed insulation from the 70's," Mourad continued. "They tried to put it out but the wind was blowing and it was just too much."

The fire, which destroyed the gym housing years of school memories, was reported around noon Friday. Fire crews were back in regular operation around 5 p.m.

Responding to the fire as mutual aid for Minden were Minden's District 10, Dixie Inn (District 7), Evergreen (District 1), Sibley (District 2) and Heflin (District 11).

"With something like this, as hot as it is, it just takes a lot of people to work," Mourad said.

"It's hot outside, then you've got all that bunker gear on and air pack and then you go inside where it is really hot in the fire... it doesn't take long for it to zap the energy out of you," Mourad said.

Sibley's department took over command at Minden's main station in efforts to protect while Minden firemen and others were taking turns fighting the fire at Glenbrook.

"Sibley responded to Central Fire Station in Minden to cover the lower half of the parish since everybody was here," Mourad said. "We had to have somebody covering for the city and the parish."

Bossier Parish also sent over a truck to Minden's Central Station to stand by for protection, according to Mourad.

Glenbrook staff, parents and students were at the scene watching as firemen worked to save part of their beloved school.

Assistant Head Master Wayne Orr, who has been a part of the school since 1973, had to choke back emotion to speak about the loss.

"It is just unbelievable," he said. "The coaches' offices are located in the bottom, all the equipment, uniforms, banners, plaques, any historical records with basketball, softball or baseball were in there," he said. "Then we had the music room upstairs so all that's gone."

Local businessman, James Madden who will soon have a third generation of his family attend the school, was on scene doing all he could to help.

"We don't blame anyone," he said. "Things like this happen. "We can rebuild and we will rebuild."

Basketball coach Chris Kourvelas was thankful it was during the summer and no one was hurt.

"Everything can be replaced," he said. "Yes there is sentimental stuff in the offices but you can always replace some of that."

Kourvelas, who has been a Glenbrook coach for three years, had plans to use the gym for some summer practice.

"In the long run everything will be all right," he said.

Jenny Mourad, mother of two Glenbrook graduates and wife of Minden's fire chief, was on scene to offer support. She was saddened by thoughts of what was lost.

"Both of my children from the time they were in the first grade until they graduated played all their ball games in here, starting from biddy ball all the way up through high school," Mourad said.

"We've watched many, many children in Minden grow up playing ball in this gym. There are so many memories in the gym of championships won and lost," she said. "It makes me so sad. But I know that we will rebuild and come back even stronger because they have a lot of support from a lot of people in the community and businesses and families of children that go to school here."

While at the scene, Mourad was texting pictures of the damage to Emily, who graduated from Glenbrook in 2005 and is now in New York City, and to Jared, who graduated in 2006 and is now a fireman for the Shreveport Fire Department.

Minden Mayor Bill Robertson, who was also at the scene of the fire, was appreciative of the help from other fire departments and positive about the future.

"We appreciate all the help," he said. "It looks like this shows the professionalism of everybody.

"We are sorry that this happened," he continued, "but we look forward to something positive coming out of it."






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