An intense fire that consumed part of a historic building on the campus of Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) in San Antonio, Texas, this past May, has not gotten this school down. The school has shown its spirit, with the help of city and school agencies, and the public. There have been reasons to celebrate in spite of their great misfortune, including that:
* No one was injured
* Fire fighters and police came from all over the city to help contain the situation
* Building sustained damage, but was not destroyed
* Work to rebuild started immediately
Most importantly, students, staff and faculty were safely evacuated from Main Building and surrounding buildings at the time of the fire. This was due to two OLLU police officers who were on duty that night, Juan Rocha and Ricardo Flores.
Other heroes of that day who helped to save historic Main Building from being destroyed were one hundred firefighters from the San Antonio Fire Department, with assistance from the San Antonio Police Department, and campus police from Our Lady of the Lake, (OLLU), and several other schools. They all came together at the four-alarm fire. The building sustained fire damage as well as water damage, but the multitude of emergency service people on the scene kept a good portion of the building intact.
The OLLU police officers and the agencies were honored at two special ceremonies in August.
“It was my sincere and humble honor to have been a part of this historic event between public safety agencies as a result of a tragic event in our university’s history. However, I am very pleased to report the ceremony was a success and graciously received thanks to so many people,” OLLU Police Chief A.J. Sandoval recently said in an email.
During a San Antonio City Council meeting, the agencies were given their due for their great efforts in putting down the blaze. To commemorate this, a photo of the fire, with the flames surrounding one of Main Building’s silver spires, a thank you note from Chief Sandoval, and a badge from the OLLU Police Department were grouped together in a frame, and given to each of the agencies.
According to OLLU’s website, there was significant fire damage to Main Building’s roof, attic and most of the fourth floor. The first, second and third floors sustained considerable water and smoke damage. A building adjacent to Main also had water damage in its basement.
With hardly any pause, clean up of Main Building began the morning after the fire with work on the building proceeding throughout the summer. City, fire, and health inspectors approved the opening of the cafeteria for September 2. Work continues.
A little background of Main Building:
* First structure on the campus in 1895.
* Well-known for its two silver spires
* Façade of Main Building has become well-known as the face of the Catholic university
* Founded by the Congregation of Divine Providence.
An “Our Lady of the Lake Rebuilding Fund” has been set up to help the school.
In the group photo, representatives from the University and police and fire agencies are: Chief Sandoval, Sister Jane Ann, San Antonio Mayor Pro Tem Philip A. Cortez, President
Tessa Martinez Pollack, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood, District Chief Lawrence Trevino, S.A. Police Chief William McManus, St. Mary’s University Police Chief Paul Glowacki, UTSA Police Chief Dave Hernandez, and Edgewood ISD Police Chief Charlie Pena.