Green Tree Elementary Struck by Lightning

Fire alarms sound, closing school and kids safely evacuate

The AC unit on Green Tree Elementarys roof as captured by a passerby.

submitted by Amy Geisler

The AC unit on Green Tree Elementary’s roof as captured by a passerby.

Green Tree Elementary was struck by lightning Wednesday morning around 6:56 a.m., creating a fire and closing the school for the day.

There was heavy rainfall with lightning this morning, of which is believed to have caused this incident and slowed student’s arrival to school today.

Mason Huebner (10) posted videos of the aftermath while driving to school in the morning.

“We were rolling by the school and we see the AC unit. Me and my dad were in the car, we saw the AC unit on top of the school shoot up a giant flame, so it basically blew up,” Hubener explains. 

The first thing he thought to do was to pull out his phone and get a video, of which his dad yelled at him for doing. “We pull into the parking lot, we call the cops, and they’re on their way. My dad runs into the school and is telling the lady there that the school is on fire,” Huebner continues. He then explains that he didn’t make it to school on time because of this and got a tardy.

The Wentzville School District sent out an email to the families.

Good morning, GTE families and staff. We are going to cancel school for today, Wednesday, April 5, at Green Tree. This morning we were alerted our fire alarms were sounding at Green Tree. Fire personnel is on the scene to assess the situation, but at this time it is unclear the extent of any damage. We believe lightning potentially struck the roof. The situation appears to be contained with no major damage but will provide updates as soon as we have them.

— Wentzville School District

Green Tree’s SPED IA teacher, Amy Geisler said, “I know that there were kids that were already there for Chautauqua, like the before school care, so we were worried about them. Hopefully they weren’t too scared.”

Geisler got the message before school through a text, an email, and then a phone call.

“An air conditioning unit, they think got struck by lightning,” Geisler said. “They don’t think that there is very much damage, they think that there might be damage to one classroom.”

The rooftop AC unit on the roof of Green Tree Elementary caught fire after likely being struck by lightning. (Wentzville School District)

UPDATE – 12:14 p.m. April 5

Dr. Tormala released a district-wide email updating the Green Tree Elementary fire.

“After some investigation, it was determined that an AC unit on the roof caught fire after likely being struck by lightning. The fire was isolated to the rooftop unit and was quickly extinguished by the Fire Department. There were a few staff and Chautauqua students located in a different part of the building when the alarms sounded. They all made it out safely without incident, and transportation provided a bus for a dry and safe place to wait.”

“We will determine our restoration and repair processes over the day to determine if Green Tree will be able to open tomorrow.”

UPDATE – 8:17 a.m. April 6

Green Tree remains closed today but will be open for school on Monday. A tweet from superintendent Dr. Tormala last night said: “Thank you for the quick response by @WentzvilleFire, @LSLFIRE, & @OFallonFireDept to contain and extinguish the fire on this rooftop unit. Huge shout out to the WSD team that jumped into action today. Clean up will continue tomorrow, but we will be back in action by Monday!”

Firefighters examine Green Tree Elementary after an AC unit caught fire on top of the building. (Wentzville School District )
Superintendent Dr. Tormala said that there was smoke and minimal water damage as a result of extinguishing the fire, but restoration work and cleanup have already begun. (Wentzville School District)