Burn to learn: Old Madras HS bleachers set ablaze

Drill gave Jefferson Co. firefighters valuable experience

MADRAS, Ore. - The nearly 50-year-old Madras High School bleachers were leveled by flames Monday morning - a fire set by firefighters.

And as you might have guessed, it was a "burn to learn" drill to make way for a new facility, one of a list of projects Jefferson County School District voters approved in a $26.7 million bond measure last year.

Madras High also is getting a new auditorium/performing arts center, and ground was broken last Friday for a new K-8 school at Warm Springs.

As for the old bleachers, built in 1964 of heavy timber, "it took over an hour to burn," said Fire Chief Brian Huff of Jefferson County Fire District No. 1 -- and that provided time to train about a dozen firefighters in exposure and fire behavior.

To make sure nobody panicked about the sight of the bleachers going up in flames, Huff said the school district put the nearest neighborhoods on notice, and sheriff's dispatchers also were advised ahead of time.

The goal is to have the upgraded football stadium in place by the fall of 2014, as well as the performing arts center.

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