First Hand at the Fire


Hammond’s Lower School suffered a two-alarm fire on Wednesday night the 16th of February. According to WLTX News, firefighters received the first call at 8:12 PM.

About the same time, junior Toby Brock got a call from his grandmother, who lives nearby the at the corner of Galway Lane and Saye Cut. “As soon as I walked in her door like 16 firetrucks zoomed by her house,” Brock said.

No one was being allowed through the front gates of the school, but many members of the Hammond community gathered near the side gate of the Lower School, including Brock and student body president, Lyndsay Moore.

“I stayed for a very long time and was one of the last students there. It was just me and Lyndsay talking to Mr. Lumpkin at the end,” Brock said. “It was freezing outside, which is very ironic, and I was standing there in shorts.”

WLTX reported that when firefighters arrived, “they found flames coming from the roof of one of the buildings in the lower school portion of the campus. Flames were spreading to a second building on the property.” That second building was the Lower School cafeteria known as the Kiva.

Brock said, “the roof was intact when I got there and there was a giant hole in it…afterwards.”

According to WKTX, Columbia fire chief Aubrey Jenkins said that “one classroom and the roof took damage, and a breezeway sustained heat damage. The fire did not spread to a nearby cafeteria.” However, photographs confirm that metal portions of the Kiva door melted in the fire’s heat.

“The feeling was just crazy. It was chaoti

c,” Brock said. “We watched Mayor Rickenmann and Mr. North talk to the newsand give their speech. I was standing right behind the cameras.”

Brock spent some time reflecting on his first-hand experiences of that night. “You have all these fire drills throughout your life at school and it’s like ‘oh it’s a fire drill,’” he said. “But what if it wasn’t? And what if there were people there? I’m very glad that no one was there and I’m glad that if it had to happen that God made it happen at night.”

Andy North, Hammond’s Head of School, sent an email the next day saying that “we are fortunate that the fire [was] contained and that no one was injured.”