EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was originally published at 7:10 a.m. Friday. It has been updated with more details.
POCATELLO — Although the damage to Highland High School was severe, the good news is that firefighters were able to keep the flames mostly contained to a single building.
The blaze at Highland High School started at around 4 a.m. Friday. Firefighters arrived and found the school’s D building covered in flames. Officials say they attacked the fire aggressively, and it was contained before 9 a.m.
But according to Pocatello Fire Department Assistant Chief Shane Grow, the D building is a complete loss. Its roof collapsed, and it suffered severe structural damage from the fire. The building housed the band and choir rooms, cafeteria, and the school’s gymnasium.
Grow said there was some minor smoke and water damage to other areas of the school, such as the autoshop and the woodshop, but those areas were unscathed by the fire.
Once the smoke clears, Grow said an investigation into the cause of the fire would begin. Local agencies, state fire marshals and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will be investigating the fire. Grow says they don’t suspect anything nefarious, but that the bureau is an excellent resource in these types of incidents.
There were no injuries to civilians or first responders in the fire.
Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 canceled classes for students at the school on Friday and issued the following statement:
“We appreciate the outpouring of support and goodwill that we have received both locally and across the state including Gov. Little’s office and the Idaho Superintendent of Schools. We will continue to keep Highland families updated throughout the days and weeks to come with details as they are confirmed,” District spokeswoman Courtney Fisher said.
In light of the destruction, Idaho State University has offered to host a prom night at the university that was originally scheduled to be held in the high school gymnasium on Saturday night.
“I am heartened by the fact that the Highland High School prom will be hosted on our campus in the Pond Student Union Ballroom,” a letter from the university’s president, Kevin Satterlee wrote in an email to university students and alumni.
“ISU stands ready to supply additional support as needed throughout this crisis,” Satterlee wrote. He noted that the university had been in contact with School District 25 throughout the eventful morning.
Calling the fire a crisis, Satterlee acknowledged that the feeling of loss and concern is felt by those at the university.
“For many in our Bengal community, Highland High School is more than a building. Many of our families have children who are directly impacted and are concerned about what will happen next. Many of our faculty, staff and students have fond memories of Highland High School, and are feeling the loss today.” ISU, he said, stood ready to help.
Highland High School’s 2023 prom will now be held Saturday, April 22, at the Pond Student Union Ballroom located at 1080 South 5th Ave. in Pocatello.
A news conference about the fire will be held Friday at 3 p.m. EastIdahoNews.com will provide updates as more details are released.