ALTUS, Okla._A building remains closed at Western Oklahoma State College in Altus after the roof caught fire Tuesday night.
The Altus Fire Department worked to put out the fire on the technical education building. Members of the school's baseball team noticed the flames coming from the roof when they were leaving the field around 8:00 p.m. Fire officials say if they hadn't been there, the fire could have been much worse.
Four classes were moved from the education building into the main building as a precaution. After about two hours of investigating, Altus Fire Marshal Kyle Davis determined roofers who were putting a new roof on the building left before the tar had cooled around 6:30 p.m.
"They probably didn't follow their safety protocols on what they are supposed to do when they left that night, and it looks like some of the roofing was still hot and ignited the rest of the roof on fire," Davis said.
Davis says petroleum based roofing materials are like a match to a flame. If it gets hot enough, it will ignite.
"It all lets off gas, you know? Petroleum gas has a flammable upper limit and it finally met that with the influx of the wind that we had last night as that little storm blew through," Davis explained.
Even with a storm brewing, it only took firefighters a matter of minutes to put out the fire, leaving an estimated $4,000 of damage to the roof itself. Inside, there is about $1,000 in damage, including water damage to five ceiling tiles from extinguishing the fire.
Western Oklahoma State College director of public information Judith Meyer says safety was the biggest concern when deciding to let everyone back inside.
"The building was closed for those reasons to keep everyone as safe as possible and make sure we know everything we need to know before we put students and staff back into the building," Meyer said.