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No one injured in ‘substantial’ fire at New Opportunities

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New Opportunities is working to offer uninterrupted services after what Carroll Fire Chief Greg Schreck called a “substantial fire” at one of the organization’s buildings.

The fire department was called at 11:22 a.m. Tuesday to a fire at the west building at New Opportunities, located at 23751 E. Hwy. 30 in Carroll.

New Opportunities serves Carroll County families and individuals, including aging adults and people with disabilities. Its services include child-development programs and a food pantry and heating-assistance program, all of which were located in the building where Tuesday’s fire occurred.

The fire started in the kitchen area near the Head Start child-development classrooms. The program’s children and employees were outside on the playground at the time, and the few remaining employees in the building evacuated after hearing the fire detectors. No one was injured, Schreck said.

About 20 firefighters responded, and they were there for about an hour and a half, Schreck said.

“We had an interior attack team go into the building, and they were able to locate the fire in the kitchen with guidance from personnel with New Opportunities — they did a very good job guiding us to where the fire was,” Schreck said. “We were able to quickly get the fire extinguished once we gained entrance into the building.”

He added, “It appears to be purely accidental.”

Although the fire was contained to the kitchen area, “there was considerable damage there,” and there was additional smoke and water damage throughout the other areas of the building holding the Head Start classrooms and food pantry, Schreck and.

New Opportunities is working with an insurance adjuster and forensics expert to determine how the fire started and the extent of the damage, New Opportunities CEO Chad Jensen said.

“All parts of the building suffered smoke damage, so the whole building is going to need some work,” Jensen said. “Parts of the building will probably be a total gut job because of the extensiveness of the fire damage.”

While the damage is repaired, the Head Start program will relocated to the building north of Farner-Bocken that currently houses the Early Head Start program; there’s extra space there right now that will allow the Head Start classes to temporarily take place there, Jensen said. The food pantry and heating-assistance program will move across the parking lot to the main New Opportunities building.

“No services are going to be delayed or stopped,” Jensen said.

He added, “Our staff did a great job of getting all the children to a safe place. The good news is, when the fire broke out, the children were on the playground — they didn’t see any fire or any smoke. The staff did a great job of keeping things calm and keeping it handled.”

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