Crews battle fire at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton

Crews are currently battling a fire at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton.
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 2:34 PM EDT|Updated: May. 23, 2022 at 6:58 PM EDT
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NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Fire broke out at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School Monday afternoon, just hours after Sunday night’s storm damaged the roof on a separate building on school grounds.

More than a dozen fire trucks from a number of cities and towns are at the high school, trying to extinguish a large fire that crews responded to shortly after 2 p.m. Monday.

We spoke with the school’s superintendent, Andrew Linkenhoker, who told us the fire started in the school’s horticulture building around dismissal time. He believes it may have been caused by a tractor catching fire at Building E.

Linkenhoker also added that all students are safe and accounted for at this time. Students were quickly escorted off-campus.

“The initial reaction was shock,” Linkenhoker. “When I left my office and saw the flames, it was pretty serious. there was a serious fire down there. the first concern was the health and safety of the staff and our students. I want to applaud our staff, they did Yeoman’s work getting all the students away from the fire.”

Crews are battling a fire at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton
Crews are battling a fire at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton(Western Mass News)

We caught up with some student-athletes on the boys’ lacrosse team who were on-campus getting ready for practice, which will now have to be moved. They said they were ordered to shelter-in-place in the cafeteria after dismissal.

“Everyone’s just recording, just like trying to figure out what’s going on….Everyone’s in shock…The teachers were freaking out. They’re trying to get us out of here, go in the cafeteria to stay away from the fire,” the student-athletes said.

Linkenholder noted that he believes this incident is completely separate from the partial roof collapse to Building D during last night’s storm. That damage forced several classes to be relocated today. This included electrical shop, carpentry shop, as well as Spanish and art classrooms.

We also spoke with Northampton Fire Chief Jon Davine who told us that building may be a lost cause.

“The building is going to be uninhabitable for now,” said Chief Davine. “The building is probably a complete loss at this point. There are a couple of classrooms that didn’t get any fire damage, but it’s got water and smoke damage, so the damage to much of the building alone is probably close to 400,000 dollars.”

He added that he believes a piece of equipment may have caught fire inside the building, but it remains under investigation.

The 18 students using that building will be displaced, and in a completely unrelated incident at the school just hours before the fire, the D building roof partially collapsed during last night’s storms. We were told work will begin on replacing the roof first thing Tuesday morning with plans to reopen its doors by Wednesday.

As for school Tuesday, the superintendent said classes are on as scheduled.

Western Mass News has a crew at the scene and will have more information as it becomes available.