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​St. Peter Prince suffers fire, but disaster averted due to quick acting parent-employee

September 10, 2020 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: Catholic Schools, Hope for the Future


St. Peter Prince suffers fire, but disaster averted due to quick acting parent-employee

St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles Church and School experienced a fire on Saturday afternoon, August 15, which originated from a stove in the first floor kitchen of the parish hall.

Smoke completely engulfed the parish hall and the primary school building. Two employees were on the second floor when the observed smoke and immediately evacuated the building. One employee, Rhys Wilson, a parent of a school student, was previously a volunteer fire fighter. He quickly assessed the situation, and re-entered the building after observing flames coming from the kitchen. He called 911 and grabbed a fire extinguisher in an attempt to extinguish the flames, and emptied two extinguishers in extinguishing the first fire.

When the Alamo Heights Fire Department (AHFD) arrived two minutes later, a second electrical fire had ignited. That fire was also safely extinguished, and power was shut off to the entire building.

According to St. Peter Business Manager Lora Balusik, “The AHFD fire fighters acknowledged that if it had not been for the courage and quick thinking of Rhys, our facilities technician, and the concrete construction of the building that the entire building and more could have been a loss because the school boiler is right next to the parish hall kitchen.

There was smoke damage in the primary building and parish hall, and the parish hall kitchen was significantly damaged. Most important, though, no one was harmed.

Gabriel Duarte, principal of St. Peter Prince of the Apostle Catholic School, and staff worked valiantly over the weekend to ensure that classes began on schedule the following Monday, August 17, and constantly communicated with parents regarding the status of planning.