Call For Action Investigation: Update on work being done at Doherty High School following two fires

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - We have new information about when a local school will open from repairs after two fires. 11 News got a look at the work being done at District 11's Doherty High School in Colorado Springs.

Crews working at Doherty High School following two fires in May.

11 News submitted an open records request to find out more information after the fires in May. We found out the work is being done to get rid of the smell of smoke and any soot or damage the fires caused.

The two fires happened within hours of each other on May 11.

"I think I'm probably the only principal in the country who had two fire incidents in the same day," Kevin Gardner, principal at Doherty High School, told 11 News.

"The dryer was a heating element and this was a piece of wood left on a kiln, so timing is everything," he said.

We asked Gardner why this much work is needed.

"Ultimately what it comes down to is it's like we had a campfire inside and a couple of places in the building. Well, that campfire got smoky and it did some damage and now we need to fix it," Gardner said.

11 News asked the crew if they found any hazardous chemicals.

"The fire didn't create any hazardous condition other than carbon monoxide right at the moment when the fire occurred and some other types of gases that could potentially be off-gas during that process," said Jacob Colson, industrial hygienist of SRP Environmental. "But at this point, there's nothing hazardous in the school. It's just the odor that we're trying to control."

The work is taking place in the art wing and another adjacent wing.

"Essentially, we're cleaning walls, we're removing porous building materials, and then ultimately replacing those materials," said Colson.

Crews are also tearing up carpet and removing ceiling tiles, among other things.

Gardner said it's similar to what homeowners deal with after wildfires.

“You know you had smoke; I mean, when we walked in here that morning there was smoke in the air and that stuff gets into everything. I think our community is aware, just with Waldo Canyon and Black Forest, just how that works as far as heating and ventilation and just to make sure that our kids were safe," Gardner said.

"There's stuff that absorbs that smoke that can't be salvaged, that has to be thrown out and replaced, and that's basically the processes that I think literally thousands of homeowners in the Colorado Springs area have gone through in the last few years, unfortunately," he added.

We asked how much money the work costs. School officials told us they don't know yet because it's still being worked out with the insurance provider.

The principal told us the project will be done in time before students head back to school.

“We’re going to be open for school in the fall right on time. We’re excited to have everybody back," said Gardner. "We’ve worked with an overabundance of caution just to make sure of safety.”

Work is expected to be complete July 31. All students return on August 18. We'll keep you updated on the progress.

Right now, most sports and other summer activities are being held at other District 11 schools.