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Fire at High School in El Monte

fire-aerialAn early-morning blaze destroyed the cafeteria building at Mountain View High School in El Monte.

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EL MONTE, Calif. (KTLA) — A massive fire at a high school in El Monte gutted the cafeteria building, but classes were set to resume on Tuesday.

Officials said the three-alarm blaze broke out at Mountain View High School around 2:30 a.m. in the cafeteria’s attic.

caf-fire-afterSky5 was the first over the scene early Monday, as intense flames lit up the dark sky.

“The collapse of the facade and the interior roof were continuing throughout the incident,” explained Tony Imbrenda, of the L.A. County Fire Department.

“It was absolutely unsafe to operate from within,” he added.

That meant that 150 firefighters had to shift from an aggressive stance into defensive mode. One firefighter was hurt — suffering a minor back injury — but declined treatment.

Four hours after the fire began, it was finally knocked down. And when the smoke cleared, the 200-foot by 200-foot building was a total loss.

Salvage crews were left to pick p the charred pieces of a place where students shared so many memories.

“I’m kinda like in shock still!” said student Carolina Herrera. “Basically almost everything that helps run the school is all gone!”

“As I got a closer image, I started seeing everything and it’s all gone,” student Sergio Mora Jr. related.

“It’s devastating, and like everyone else I’m just thankful no one was hurt,” he added.

There was no immediate word on the damage estimate from the blaze. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

EL MONTE, Calif. (KTLA) –A three-alarm blaze gutted the cafeteria building of a high school in El Monte on Monday morning.

The fire was reported around 2:30 a.m. at Mountain View High School, located at 2900 Parkway Drive.

The large building also houses a maintenance shop, a faculty cafeteria and a student store.

Firefighters began with an aggressive interior attack, but had to pull back into defensive mode due to a partial building collapse.

“The collapses of the facade and the interior roof were continuing throughout the incident, so it was absolutely unsafe to operate from within,” said Tony Imbrenda, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

There were six ladder trucks and about 150 firefighters at the scene.

Fire crews fought to keep the flames from spreading to any other buildings. The cafeteria building appeared to be a total loss.

One firefighter suffered a minor back strain but was not transported for treatment.

The fire was knocked down just after 6:30 a.m., Imbrenda said.

A bulldozer was brought in to pull down burning embers, and crews remained on scene hours later to continue cleanup efforts.

It wasn’t immediately clear what may have sparked the blaze.

Investigators say it could have been a lot worse, had it not been for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

“It was definitely a blessing in disguise for us today to not have school and deal with the influx of individuals coming into this scene,” said Imbrenda.

School officials say classes will go on as scheduled tomorrow.

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