Dozens of cadets moved from Millersburg academy, fire inspector says

jwarren@herald-leader.comJune 28, 2013 

A fire inspector said he ordered the U.S. Army Cadet Corps to evacuate about 70 teen-age cadets and some adult staffers from two buildings at the corps' Millersburg campus in Bourbon County after finding wiring problems and other issues.

Mike Duffy, a battalion chief and fire inspector with the Paris Fire Department, said both buildings have been closed, pending repairs.

"The only people allowed inside are inspectors, someone making repair estimates, or someone who has to go in as an adult to remove items," Duffy said Friday.

Corps spokesman Brian Lehnhardt said the situation involves the Rankin and McIntyre buildings, both more than 80 years old, where the cadets and adults had been living temporarily during summer camp. The buildings are being renovated, he said.

The cadets and staffers have been moved from those facilities to other locations on and off campus, and the corps is cooperating with state and local officials to rectify the situation, Lehnhardt said.

"At no time were any of our cadets, recruits or staff in any danger," the corps said in a statement.

About 160 cadets are at the Millersburg campus for summer camp activities that began Sunday.

The U.S. Army Cadet Corps Inc., which is not part of the U.S. Army, runs a cadet program for boys and girls ages 12 to 17 who are interested in military service.

Duffy said in an interview Friday that his office received an anonymous telephone call on Wednesday about problems at the corps campus. He said he went to the campus that afternoon after checking with the Millersburg Volunteer Fire Department, which has no fire inspector of its own.

Duffy said he checked both the Rankin and McIntyre buildings and found a variety of problems.

He described "bare walls down to the studs," "electrical wiring dangling from the ceiling," and "kids sleeping within inches of exposed electrical wiring sticking out of the wall."

According to Duffy, other problems included missing fire extinguishers; extinguishers that were out of date or had not been refilled; inoperative fire alarm systems; missing smoke and heat detectors; and detectors that were inoperable.

"It's a long list," he said.

Duffy said that based on the findings he notified corps officials Wednesday afternoon that the Rankin and McIntyre buildings would have to be evacuated.

The corps immediately complied, Lehnhardt said.

He said the Millersburg campus had been closed for several years when the corps bought it in 2008. The organization has been working ever since to bring all buildings on the property up to modern code requirements.

"We've come a long way, but there is still quite a lot to do," he said. "When you renovate any building, particularly older ones like ours, you're going to find things that are not in as good shape as you'd like."

Lehnhardt said officials have given corps officials "copious notes" on improvements that need to be made.

"We've already been working on that, and we had a couple of agencies out here (Friday) looking at things that are going on," he said.

Lehnhardt said representatives from Kentucky Child Protective Services have interviewed all the cadets who were moved out of the Rankin and McIntyre buildings, and "they have certified to us that no child said they thought they were in any danger.

"Safety is number one," he said.

Duffy, however, contended that corps officials should have known that the buildings were not to be occupied.

He said he's given them until Tuesday to demonstrate that they are moving to resolve the problems.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255

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