Friday, 24 May 2024

Regional student program records lost in fire

NORTH COAST – A fire that destroyed buildings in the Mendocino County Office of Education's complex in Ukiah last week also destroyed records for an educational program that benefits the region's schools.


The fire broke out at 2:22 a.m. Saturday, July 12, at the agency's complex on Old River Road, said Ukiah Valley Fire Chief Dan Grebil.


Three Ukiah Valley engines were joined at the scene by an engine from El Cajon Fire Department and another engine from the fire department for the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians from the San Diego area, said Grebil.


The engines were in the county to work on the vast Mendocino Lightning Complex and were able to respond and assist with putting out the fire, which Grebil said took about an hour.


Investigation into the fire's cause is still ongoing, said Grebil.


Paul Tichinin, Mendocino County superintendent of schools, said the fire affected seven buildings, destroying five portables measuring about 900 square feet each.


Damage estimates are still in process, he said. “We do know it's in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”


No classrooms were damaged or student records lost, Tichinin said. The district's main computer system also remains intact, with staffers set up in a temporary office facility, using laptops to recover data.


However, a number of programs providing support for special groups of children were impacted, Tichinin said.


They include the Child Development Department, Child Care Planning Council, Americorps and the First Five Commission. Some equipment for very young, disabled children also was destroyed, he said.


A far-reaching impact is the loss of materials and records for the regional after school tutoring program. Tichinin said the program serves Lake, Sonoma, Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocinco counties, offering training and support for after school programs.


He said his staff was working hard to find what was missing and damaged and get back on track for when the county's schools return to session, which is from Aug. 18 onward.


He said he was especially thankful to firefighters, and grateful that the firefighters from Viejas and El Cajon happened to be in the area.


“We're just really pleased with them,” Tichinin said.


Out of harm's way was Dominican University of California's facilities, which are located at the campus for Mendocino Office of Education.


“We were on the total opposite side of the campus,” said Dr. Lisa Ray Kelly, director of the center, which offers teaching credential programs serving Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma counties.


Kelly said there will be no interruption of service for Dominican resulting from the fire.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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