DANVILLE — Two Danville schools are rallying around two of their staff members, whose home was badly damaged in a fire late Sunday afternoon.
Firefighters were called to a house fire at 908 Sherman St. at 4:47 p.m. When they arrived, smoke and heavy flames were showing from the rear of the two-story wood-frame structure, Danville Public Safety Director Larry Thomason said.
Local fire officials are still investigating the cause, Thomason said. "It's still unknown at this time."
However, Thomason said, the owner, Aaron Bott, said he was outside when he smelled smoke. He went inside and saw smoke and flames near an outlet near a dryer toward the rear of the house.
Bott, his wife Teri and the couple's baby daughter were home when the fire broke out, but they escaped without injury, Thomason said. He said a firefighter was injured when he fell through the floor to a basement area while fighting the blaze.
"He did not receive any major injuries," Thomason said, adding the firefighter was taken to Presence United Samaritans Medical Center in Danville where he was treated and released.
Thomason said it took firefighters a couple of hours to extinguish the blaze and do overhaul work. Damage was estimated at about $60,000.
The couple are both Danville school district employees. Aaron Bott is the head custodian at Edison Elementary, and Teri Bott is a teacher at Cannon Elementary.
Cannon secretary Cindy Redman said co-workers jumped into action when they heard about the fire on Sunday evening.
"Several staff members went to Walmart and bought toiletries and baby items" and took them to the couple, who are staying with relatives, Redman said. "A couple of teachers have taken clothes over for Teri.
"And Mrs. Pabst and Mr. M both have toddlers," she continued, referring to Principal Kimberly Pabst and physical education teacher Mihai Murineanu. "They're going to loan out a crib and baby swing. We're going to set them up as much as we can."
Both Cannon and Edison schools will hold a school-wide fund raiser on Wednesday. Staff can wear jeans if they make a donation, and all proceeds will go to the couple, Edison Principal Mark Goodwin said.
"We're going to be trying some different fund raisers and helping them as much as we can," he said.
Redman said Teri Bott had been on maternity leave since May. She had been at home caring for her daughter, who was premature, and was due back to work on Monday.
"She was so worried about her lesson plans," Redman said. "We're just glad they're OK. Everyone got out, and that's the important thing."