Fire damages early childhood education building



Photo courtesy of College of the Desert

On May 15, there was an overnight fire damaging College of the Desert’s Early Childhood Education building. Authorities do not know what time the fire started but officials were alerted at 10:49 p.m. Three classrooms total suffered extensive fire, heat, smoke and water damage. 

COD officials said the safety of their students and children were first priority. All parents were contacted and notified about the fire. COD student Stephanie Ceja told the Chaparral, “Her lead teacher called me around 6:30 a.m. and told me there was an emergency and that they were cancelling school for the day. It wasn’t until later in the day that they told me there had been a fire that affected my daughter’s classroom.”

Classrooms were closed on Wednesday and that meant the toddlers in the toddler program were moved to a different building. “They explained to me that they were going to move the kids over to the preschool side earlier than expected. They recommended that we arrive earlier to help with the transition for the kids as they meet their new teachers,” says Ceja. 

COD Student Regina Lezama doesn’t have a child enrolled into the toddler program but was leaving school and running errands as she heard the alarms from the school. “When I drove by I was confused at first because I had just left from my class that ended at 9:40 p.m. I went to Target quickly and came back to hear loud alarms from the school and saw the firemen. It happened quickly. My first concern was if anyone was hurt and if the damage was bad.” 

The overall McCarthy Family Child Development and Training Center (CDC) hosts children ages 1 through 5 who are the children of COD students, faculty, staff and the community.

CDC staff operates the McCarthy Center with the help of College of the Desert student workers. The Center serves as a model lab/demonstration program for the Early Childhood Education Department. Students from the ECE, as well as other disciplines, are able to observe and student teach in connection with their COD courses.

The College’s insurer and a structural engineer will inspect the facility to determine the next steps for the building.

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