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BHS blaze in program highlight

Bud Lundgren, George Bussell, Chuck Callaham and Everett Thompson gave a look back at the 1976 fire that destroyed Bainbridge High School during the historical society’s annual meeting. - Photo courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum
Bud Lundgren, George Bussell, Chuck Callaham and Everett Thompson gave a look back at the 1976 fire that destroyed Bainbridge High School during the historical society’s annual meeting.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum

A recounting of the Bainbridge High School “Inferno of 1976” highlighted the well-attended annual meeting of the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum held on Feb. 10 at the American Legion Hall.

Former BHS Principal George Bussell told the audience about being awakened at 2 a.m. May 26, 1976 with the news that the three-story 1928 high school building was totally engulfed. Firefighters Chuck Callaham and Gary Nolta showed photos of the scene and explained the challenges the fire department had in controlling the blaze.

Teachers Ralph Cheadle, Everett Thompson, Bob McAllister and Paul Torno shared their stories of the fire, including the rescue of the upcoming graduation caps and gowns and students’ transcripts.

Cheryl Selvar, a 1976 graduate, told of successfully pleading with firefighters to find the annuals that had just arrived and were stored in boxes in the flooded basement.

The presentation was hosted by Bud Lundgren, BHS Class of ’47 and the “Voice of the Spartans” for more than 20 years.

All the participants praised firefighters, students, faculty and community members who pitched in to quickly resume classes and ensure the graduation ceremony for the Class of 1976.

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