Mar 5, 2012 6:34 PM by Maddie Garrett

Long Time Vidrine Elem. School Janitor Dies in School Fire

The small community of Vidrine is dealing with the death of a long-time elementary school employee, 58-year-old Donald Thomas. Firefighters said Thomas died in an early morning fire, after being trapped inside of the school's storage supply building. The building also serves as the break room and bathroom for the janitors.

Firefighters arrived at Vidrine Elementary around 5:45 a.m. Monday and said at that time the building was on fire. Other employees informed firefighters that Thomas was unaccounted for and still inside the building. It took firefighters about ten minutes to locate Thomas, he was found in the bathroom with debris on top of him.

"Something happened in that building where he got trapped," said State Fire Marshal Investigator Garry Ried.

Vidrine Elementary School Principal Sherral Tezeno said Thomas was a faithful employee of 22 years and will be deeply missed.

"Every single day I could depend on him to be here ahead of time, all the time," said Tezeno. "He's going to be deeply, deeply, terribly missed by the staff and the student body and I know his immediate family as well, because of his consistency."

The school was closed for the day Monday and will re-open Tuesday with grief counselors on hand.

"This school is really a family and a team and we everyone loved him, his family, and we just pray for the strength to be able to get through it," said Vidrine Elementary School Supervisor Grace Sibley.

The State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the fire and have not released a cause as of Monday evening. Investigators said fire alarms did go off, but there are no sprinklers in the storage building. An exact cause of death remains under investigation.



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