BOLD safely evacuates Olivia, Minnesota, school as electrical fire breaks out before start of classes

BOLD Superintendent Jim Menton reports there were no injuries when an electrical fire broke out at the Olivia school on Wednesday morning, and the evacuation went well. He is hopeful that classes can be resumed on schedule Thursday.

BOLD School Fire Feb. 8 2023 fire trucks on street.JPG
Fire trucks from the Olivia Fire Department are parked in front of the BOLD School indoor pool entrance on East Pine Avenue on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, in Olivia. An electrical fire in the utility room for the indoor pool broke out shortly before the start of classes. All students and staff were safely evacuated.
Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune

OLIVIA — An electrical fire that broke out in the utility room for the indoor pool at the BOLD School in Olivia led to the evacuation of school and staff shortly before classes were to start on Wednesday morning.

Fire alarms began sounding and the school lost power when the electrical fire started.

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Students and staff were safely evacuated to the Cross of Calvary Church near the school campus. School was canceled for the day, and students were transported home both by parents and buses.

Superintendent Jim Menton said there were no injuries and the evacuation went without incident.

“It went as smoothly as you could expect from a chaotic situation like this," Menton said.


Menton said he was impressed by how well staff and students responded to the incident, and how well it went. “It seemed like once we got to the church, this was something we rehearsed every day,” he said.

BOLD School Fire Feb. 8 2023 students walking down street.JPG
Students from BOLD Schools in Olivia walk down East Pine Avenue Wednesday morning, Feb. 8, 2023, as firefighters from Olivia and Bird Island respond to an electrical fire that broke out in the utility room for the indoor pool.
Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune

The school alerted parents via email about the evacuation. Parents began picking up students at the church prior to the arrival of buses at 9:30 a.m. to transport the majority of students.

The school is planning to resume classes on schedule Thursday morning.

The events began unfolding before the start of school when a school staff person checked on the pool in the early morning. The worker noticed the water level in the pool was down by a couple of inches, and went into the utility room to investigate, according to the superintendent.

BOLD School Fire Feb. 8 2023 firefighters working at the enterance to pool.JPG
Firefighters work in the indoor pool entrance at the BOLD School in Olivia on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. An electrical fire broke out in the utility room for the indoor pool. The school was safely evacuated, and classes were canceled for the day.
Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune

The utility room was badly flooded, and Maintenance and Grounds Supervisor Denny Spielman arrived to assist. For reasons to be determined, water was coming out of the pool’s chlorinator and causing the flooding, according to Olivia Fire Chief Tim Seehusen.

The water reached the electrical panel and triggered an electrical fire in the panel and wiring, according to Seehusen. Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire once the city’s electrical crew could cut the electric power to the building.

Menton said the fire alarms went off as the mechanical issues were being addressed.

The Olivia and Bird Island fire departments responded to the fire. The fire created a lot of smoke. The smell of burnt electrical equipment was apparent in the area of the district offices and media.


BOLD School Fire Feb. 8 2023 Bird Island Fire truck parked around back of pool building with smoke.JPG
The Olivia and Bird Island fire departments respond to a fire call Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, at the BOLD School in Olivia. Smoke was coming from the south side of the pool building where an electrical fire started in the pool utility room.
Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune

The smoke did not reach the elementary area of the school. The doors to the high school area were closed, and Menton said he was hopeful that area was unaffected as well.

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At the scene, firefighters from both the Olivia and Bird Island departments were seen going in and out of the section of the school building where the pool is located. Fans were placed in the front entrance of the pool and smoke could be seen coming out of the south side of the building.

Once classes were called off for the day, students who drove to school were able to get to their vehicles in the school parking lot, where some fire trucks were parked.

Workers with Valley Electric of Olivia were on site Wednesday morning to restore power to the school.

“The fire department did a fantastic job of responding quickly getting everything under control,” Menton said.

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoors reporter for the West Central Tribune.
He has been a reporter with the West Central Tribune since 1993.

Cherveny can be reached via email at or by phone at 320-214-4335.
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