PANAMA CITY- A power pole fire Tuesday morning caused a power outage in downtown Panama City that forced Bay High administrators to dismiss students early. The pole fire happened near the intersection of Jenks and 7th Street. Bay High students were dismissed at 10:50AM due to safety concerns since the schools first line of communication, land line phones, were down.
The fire began around 7:30 Tuesday morning, leaving more than 700 Gulf Power customers without power, including Bay High. The hallways and classrooms were dark. Administrators made the decision to dismiss students after third period. They contacted parents who lined up to sign out their students one by one. Others were taken home by bus.
There is never a good time for something like this to happen, but this was especially bad timing given the fact that it's finals week. "We do have a predicament. The kids were preparing and studying for their 7th period final examinations. We are going to lose that time of preparation for final examinations. Our kids are resilient at Bay High. It's an A school so we are very proud of these kids and very proud of this staff. They can shoulder this burden and they will do an exceptional job," said Dr. John Haley, Executive Director of Operational Support Services.
The power was restored to Bay High around 10:15. But only temporarily, district officials say there would likely be another outage when Gulf Power puts the permanent fix, a new pole, in place.
Dr. Haley wanted to emphasize that administrators were able to communicate with parents via cell phones during the outage.