Massive Fire Rips Through Delaware County Catholic School; Archdiocese Committed to Re-Opening on Time in September

A close-knit Catholic community is mourning and calling on God after a Catholic school in Morton went up in flames.

(Published Thursday, July 19, 2018)

What to Know

  • Fire broke out late Wednesday night at Our Lady of Angels Regional Catholic School in Morton, Pennsylvania.

  • Flames quickly engulfed classrooms, sending flames into the air and causing neighbors to be evacuated.

  • "Thank the Lord nobody got hurt," Monsignor John Savinski said.

Firefighters battled a massive fire at a Delaware County Catholic school overnight that left much of the building damaged but nobody hurt.

The fire started around 11 p.m. Wednesday at Our Lady of Angels Regional Catholic School on Franklin Avenue in Morton, Pennsylvania.

More than 100 firefighters from almost two dozen companies around the county got the blaze under control after a few hours, but not before the roof of much of the building was gone.

By daylight Thursday, some smoke still rose from the rubble as crews boarded up the windows of classrooms. The fire also destroyed the art room and computer lab, former student Chris Hochstuhl said while pointing to the charred building.

"It's a tight knit community, there's a lot of people that still are around this area that all went to this school," Hochstuhl said. "If you are from Morton, you most likely went to OLPH."

The fire seemingly began in a classroom in the older portion of the building, which was built in the late 1940s.

"Thank the Lord nobody got hurt," Monsignor John Savinski said.

Firefighters battled a massive fire at Our Lady of Angels Regional Catholic School in Morton, Pennsylvania Wednesday night into Thursday morning. SkyForce10 was over the scene.

(Published Thursday, July 19, 2018)

About 400 students from kindergartners to eighth graders attend Our Lady of Angels during the school year. The school is next to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church.

A Philadelphia Archdiocese official said in a statement Thursday that officials will work to open the school on time in September at a location that keeps all of the students together.

"The pastor and principal are committed to opening school on time in September at a unified location to keep the entire school community together. Multiple options are available and being considered at this time in order to meet that goal," Archdiocese spokesman Kevin Gavin said. "Developments will be communicated to school families as rapidly as possible."

About 50 children also attend summer camp there this summer. There was no camp Thursday.

The fire damaged much of the building, but firefighters were able to save the offices and gymnasium, which were protected by firewalls. They were also able to rescue a statue of the Virgin Mary from inside the building.

"The fire which severely damaged Our Lady of Angels School in Morton (OLA) last night is a moment of deep sadness for parish and school families as well as the Catholic community at large in the region," Gavin said. "We are grateful to the firefighters and first responders who worked tirelessly to extinguish the blaze, many of whom are alumni of OLA. It is a blessing that no one was injured as a result of the fire."

The school posted a prayer to its Facebook page early Thursday morning: "God will carry you through every storm and give you strength to make it."

Delaware County Catholic School Goes Up in Flames

The effects of the fire were felt in the neighborhood as well. At one point about 40 nearby residents and eight nuns were displaced by the fire, officials said. Some fences of neighboring homes were taken down.

No signs pointed to the fire being suspicious. The fire marshal is investigating, as is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, because the fire happened at a house of worship.

A fire ripped through Our Lady of Angels Regional Catholic School in Morton, Pennsylvania, overnight, leaving classrooms badly damaged.

(Published Thursday, July 19, 2018)

"I can't believe there's nothing left," parent Nicole Cimino said, while noting how gorgeous the campus was. "It's really sad."

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