Scout leader proud of how children reacted to school fire

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind - The leader of a pack of Cub Scouts says he’s extremely proud of how the children reacted to Monday night’s fire at St. Jude Catholic School.

Tony Hahn is the leader for Cub Scout Pack 51. The group of 19 children and 30 adults were attending a fire safety presentation at St. Jude Catholic School when a fire broke out in a second floor storage room around 7 p.m.

Hahn said his daughter, who is in kindergarten, first noticed the smell of smoke during the presentation in the school’s cafeteria. He says she alerted him, and it quickly became clear that they would need to put their fire safety lesson to real use.

Hahn said he is extremely proud of how the children reacted calmly to the situation.

“And much of that is learned by watching how the parents reacted,” Hahn said. “And the parents and the other leaders knew exactly what to do. When they realized that it was real, they lined them up, walked them out calmly and the kids knew that that was the way in which to react.”

Hahn said the group of scouts and parents lined up in a single-file line, quickly walked outside and gathered around a flag pole as Indianapolis firefighters arrived.

“The fire professionals and the others there set good examples for the children and they showed what the helpers look like in a situation like that,” Hahn said. “And I think that goes a long way too in calming and demystifying an emergency situation.”

No injuries were reported at the scene of the fire.

Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD) officials believe the fire was caused by the spontaneous combustion of a pile of decorative straw in a second-floor storage room. The fire was small, but it sent heavy smoke through the building.

Restoration crews spent all day Tuesday cleaning up the interior of the school.

Indianapolis Archdiocese spokesperson Greg Otolski said classes at St. Jude are expected to resume on schedule Wednesday. However, students are being asked to bring their lunches to school.

Otolski said the Health Department has cleared the school’s kitchen for use, but the cafeteria still needs more cleanup. Food deliveries to the school could not be made Tuesday, Otolski said.

Students on Wednesday should bring their lunches and be prepared to eat lunch in their classrooms.

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