New Doherty High School in Flames

Published 4 months ago -

Adam Ide, Sports Editor

The new Doherty High School construction site caught fire on Monday, Sep. 12, while workers were operating welding equipment. The fire was put out quickly, and the Worcester Public School District leaders are optimistic that the fire has not caused major damage.

The City of Worcester recently hired Fontaine Bros. Inc. and Dimeo Construction, in a joint venture, to serve as their construction management for the largest project in the city’s history, Doherty Memorial High School. This is the most recent addition to the City of Worcester’s “Investing in Education” program. This program is part of the city’s goal of improving public schools’ infrastructure to help students achieve academic excellence.

The new school is planned to be a 422,000 square feet state-of-the-art high school with a projected construction budget of $240 million. The project’s proposed completion was estimated to be in the fall of 2024 before the welding incident.

According to the Worcester Fire Department, the fire was caused by a welding incident that ignited a pile of roofing material. The construction crew was operating under an expired hot work permit, putting them in violation of the Worcester Fire Department’s guidelines.

“The Worcester Fire Department will not issue another hot work permit until an acceptable construction safety plan is presented and approved,” the fire department said in a news release Tuesday evening.

The city’s Department of Inspectional Services was sent out to the construction site to assess the damage and determine whether the building’s structural integrity has been compromised. 

“Updates from the  structural engineers and construction companies … shows no structural damage with minimal impact on timeline costs …,” Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Rachel Monárrez tweeted Thursday morning. 

Worcester Public School officials are hoping that the construction will be able to continue on schedule and still finish in the fall of 2024. While the Department of Inspectional Services has not reported any structural damage, Fontaine Bros. Inc. and Dimeo Construction will need to obtain a new hot work permit from the Worcester Fire Department in order to continue. It is unclear how long it will take to develop an acceptable construction safety plan in order to reclaim their permit.

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