Paul Davis releases photos of work done after fire at Mitchell School

RACINE (WITI) -- Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling has now released pictures of its work inside Mitchell School following a fire back on February 27th. Paul Davis says its crews were able to get the school ready for Mitchell Elementary School students to return on March 18th -- getting work done inside the school more than 12 hours ahead of schedule.

Fire raced through the elementary school's multi-purpose room early on February 27th.

Paul Davis Restoration says thousands of man-hours were spent cleaning and repairing the site over two weeks.

Paul Davis says both Mitchell Elementary School and Mitchell Middle School were uninhabitable after the fire -- due to smoke, soot and water damage which permeated the 217,000 square foot two-story structure on Drexel Ave. in Racine.

Soot was caked onto most surfaces with a smoky odor throughout the building and an inch of water standing in many first-floor offices and classrooms, according to Paul Davis.

Demolition crews from Paul Davis National and Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling of Southeast Wisconsin were permitted to be onsite with preliminary clean-up and stabilization on the night of the fire.

The company started the large-scale work just four days after the fire broke out.

The fire was intense -- causing the roof to collapse in some parts of the building  and destruction throughout most of the school.

When the roof collapsed in the multi-purpose room, the remaining areas of interior and exterior walls also caved in.

However, Paul Davis says it was able to complete the large loss project more than 12 hours ahead of schedule and the deadline date was met for teachers and students to return to their classrooms. Crews worked around the clock with approximately 440 highly-skilled technicians and professionals from the local Paul Davis offices and the community.

Racine Unified School District’s Director of Buildings and Grounds Bryan Arnold said the school has passed all of its environmental and safety standards by industrial hygienists and inspectors, and he applauded the hard work from the restoration company and Racine Unified School District’s buildings and grounds staff.

Paul Davis cleaned up smoke and soot from virtually every space in the Middle School along with sanitizing and cleaning contents while emptying 1,200 individual student lockers with items bagged and tagged for identification.

Hundreds of pounds of hard and soft goods were packed up, identified, and cleaned and laundered at Paul Davis’ contents facility in Milwaukee.

To manage the process, Paul Davis worked with teachers and labeled materials in the classrooms with some items to be saved and some to be discarded.

Paul Davis crews took pictures of rooms and contents, so that after cleaning and sanitizing, the items could be placed back in the spaces exactly - arranging it all according to the photos and story board pictures created by the Paul Davis team.

With cleaning most of the students’ lockers and personal contents, Paul Davis workers had to first cover the lockers in plastic and utilized special hydroxyl generators to eliminate fire and smoke odors. The items were replaced in the lockers for students when they returned to school.

Asbestos abatement and the clean up and sanitizing of the school cafeteria were priorities of the job.

The restoration crews also determined the need for installing temporary drywall in hallways that connected the middle and elementary schools in order to isolate areas that were still damaged in order to control odor and prevent access.

Paul Davis replaced tiling affected by water damage and utilized dozens of air movers that circulated more than 2,500 cubic feet of air per minute to help eliminate odors. Crews waxed the newly installed floors for students to head back to the middle school which is now fully functional.

Middle school students will be required to stay in school an additional 40 minutes per day for the rest of the school year to make up for lost time in the classroom.

Elementary students are attending school at the formerly vacant Wind Point Elementary School in Racine.

According to J. Murphy, director of operations for Paul Davis National, he believes Mitchell school is now cleaner than when the structure was originally built in the 1930s.

“We restored the fire alarm system, new ceiling tiles in the middle school, painted the school’s walls, and installed new carpeting and floor tiles. We removed debris, wiped away soot, dusted, vacuumed and cleaned every item in every room, to  name just a few of the immense details about this job,” Murphy said.

Racine Unified maintenance crews worked diligently to restore power, heat and water to the facility. The District’s grounds crews cleared snow and ice from the site.

Paul Davis National’s senior project managers, Neal Lengacher and Winston Bean, were charged with overseeing day and night crews during the entire process.

Lengacher summarized the 24/7, two week job as he wrote to crews when the project was finished just 12 hours ahead of schedule.

“Well, folks, it looks like we did it. Those who doubted can now be believers,” said Lengacher. “All air and surface testing has passed. The fire marshal has approved the egress plans and the alarm system repairs. New floors are waxed, the paint is dry and new carpets are laid. We will be down to a skeleton crew of less than 50 on Sunday, and we will welcome back the teachers at 7:45am Monday, and the students on Tuesday,” he said. “It has been a fun and exciting two weeks, and I cannot begin to express my gratitude to everyone involved. Great work.”