If you see smoke rising in the area behind George Freeman School tomorrow morning, there's no reason to worry as this is actually a prepared burn by the Strathmore Fire Department (SFD).

SFD Deputy Chief Eric Alexander explained this is being done mainly as a pre-emptive act to prevent potential injuries.

"The building has fallen into such disrepair that it's just unsafe, and we've noticed a lot of vandalism and evidence of people being there, and we just don't want anyone entering that property because it's so unsafe. It could collapse at any time and create that hazard once again, so in the effort of prevention, we're going to be burning it down," he said.

Alexander added this is also a great opportunity for a training exercise, as it gives firefighters a chance to observe how quickly a fire can spread and how you can suppress it. He explained this building is unique in that all the doors and windows are already missing, meaning it will burn very quickly because there won't be anything to suppress oxygen.

"Once it gets going, it'll reach a free burning state really fast, and we want our members to know the importance of not breaking windows, not opening doors when we arrive on scene at a fire because it just adds fuel to the fire in the form of oxygen and allows that fire to grow exponentially quicker than if it was a vent limited fire. 

The burn is planned for 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 25. This could change if there are any emergencies the SFD needs to respond to.

Alexander also wanted to thank the Town of Strathmore, Wheatland County, Wheatland West Fire Service, and the Western Irrigation District for their collaboration in helping complete this burn in a safe and timely manner.

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