Smith Vocational working on repairs following two-alarm fire

Fire damaged the horticultural building at Smith Vocational High School in Northampton
Fire damaged the horticultural building at Smith Vocational High School in Northampton(Western Mass News)
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 4:07 PM EDT
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NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - About a week and a half ago, the horticultural building at Smith Vocational High School in Northampton caught on fire right around dismissal and the building was significantly damaged.

Officials said the fire started after a lawn mower backed into a garage on-campus, causing it to catch fire. There were students in the building, but luckily, no one was hurt.

Superintendent Andrew Linkenhoker told Western Mass News they hoped the building would be torn down already. However, insurance is holding things up.

“We’re in the midst of working with the insurance company, submitting the claim not only for the building, but all the equipment and tools we lost in the fire we submitted,” Linkenhoker said.

They hope to break ground on the construction sometime next school year. Unfortunately, Linkenhoker told us they expect a large price tag for the rebuild.

“So, we’re trying to hire an architect to give us a scope of the rebuild project. We’re guessing, right now, about one-and-a-half, $2 million, might be looking at five to six for a total rebuild,” Linkenhoker noted.

In addition, the night before the fire broke out, bad weather blew through the area and ripped off part of the roof of the ‘D’ building. Luckily, the repairs for that are almost complete.

“Luckily, the city stepped up and allowed us to repair that roof very quickly. Within 48 hours, that roof was repaired. In the interim, some students were displaced all over the campus because we could not access that particular building, but within 48 hours, we were back up and running, so that was some good news that came out of some bad news,” Linkenhoker explained.

The superintendent said that he is thankful to the community for all of their help in fundraising for the project.

“Since the fire, we’ve been receiving donations almost on a daily basis, but also for tools, monetary donations, and gift cards to local stores,” Linkenhoker said.

Linkenhoker said that although it’s been an inconvenience, the students have adapted and thanks to the donations students are still able to participate in hands-on work like mowing lawns.

You can CLICK HERE for a list of items the school still needs.