Fire Burns at Worcester School Under Construction

Firefighters were at the scene near Highland Street and Newton Square

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A fire broke out Monday at a new building at a $293 million school construction project in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Firefighters responded just after 3 p.m. to find heavy flames and smoke coming from a building being constructed at Doherty High School.

"I do not use the word 'Hell' as a slang word, but it looked like what I think of as Hell," said Jean Dunn, who lives across the street.

The fire began on the roof of one of the four new buildings under construction. Investigators say flammable foam roofing insulation had just been brought to the roof earlier in the day, and welding was being done at the site Monday afternoon. But they haven't concluded if that played a role in the fire.

"He said it was a welder's spark hit the roofing material, which was very flammable," said Dunn, who spoke with a construction worker.

The project has been in the works for years.

"It's like a punch in the gut a little bit," said Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty. "A lot of time went into the planning of this school."

The site sits right next door to the current Doherty High School. Thankfully, nobody was injured at school.

"First question was any children there," said Worcester Schools Superintendent Rachel Monarrez. "Anybody that we need to be worried about. I was assured no children on campus, school was already let out."

A construction worker was hurt, but is believed to have minor injuries.

Firefighters were unsure how secure the building was.

"We're always concerned about buildings under construction," said Worcester Acting Deputy Fire Chief Adam Roche. "We don't know the stages of construction right away, so collapse was a forethought in our minds."

Aerial apparatus was used to put out the fire, which officials said was under control in about 30 minutes.

The new high school is supposed to be completed in 2024.

Classes will be held Tuesday, officials said.

Footage shared on social media showed a huge plume of smoke, which was visible on radar.

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