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Custodian’s action saves Glenbrook Gymnasium from burning

Beth Spencer’s morning started out normally on Saturday Nov. 15. She clocked in at Castleton’s physical plant building and set about her janitorial duties. After finishing a little early in the science building, Spencer said, “I went over to the Glenbrook Gym about 6:50.”

Spencer’s supervisor Christine Kwolek said, “she doesn’t usually go to the gym, but there was a soft ball clinic scheduled at 9 a.m.”

Spencer’s first stop was to clean the ladies room. But when she got there, something seemed wrong.

“I didn’t see fire there, it smelled like fuel – like when a furnace comes on. And I went out of the bathroom toward the pool, and there is a classroom on the left. It was full of smoke” Spencer said.

She immediately used her radio to alert security and to let them know she was leaving the building. It was about 7:10 a.m.

A school wide e-mail later that day from CSC Dean of Administration Bill Allen said that the fire department had put out a “small fire in the front roof of the building.”

The e-mail also explained that the fire had been a result of a hot spot left from welders that had been working in the area the previous day.

“If it had not been for the softball clinic, no one would have been there until nine,” said Kwolek.

According to Allen, the fire “damaged a roughly 3 foot by 4 foot section of roof, which has been replaced. There was minor water damage to the women’s room and some smoke odor in the building.”

“The smell was from the roof tar,” said Spencer. “I went in later to pick up the lady’s room and in the men’s room, there were some tiles down.”

Spencer joked about the firemen who had made a mess of her floor with their muddy boots. Then she turned serious.

“The whole building could have gone up,” she said.

Kwolek agreed, saying if not for Spencer’s quick actions things could have been much worse.

There is no final cost of the damages as of yet, but because of Spencer and the fire department’s quick response and professionalism, damage was kept from getting much worse and “the softball event was delayed, but not canceled.” said Allen.

Kwolek was not surprised at the way in which Spencer handled the situation. In the year that Spencer has been employed by the college she has impressed everyone with her diligence.

“Beth is an outstanding employee, observant, and conscientious. One of those people you’d like to have a dozen of,” Kwolek said.