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Blaze at Aquarium Doused

Less than 24 hours after being handed a check for $100,000 to triple the size of the Cabrillo High School Aquarium, a small fire in one aquarium sent teachers, students and school personnel racing to save wildlife.

The fire was discovered by Dave Long, adviser for the aquarium project, at about 10:15 Wednesday morning.

According to Long, the fire appeared to be the result of an electrical short in one of the bulbs that illuminated the tank.

The fire caused debris to fall into the tank, endangering more than 250 animals.

"This is a perfect example of polluting a small section of sea," Long said. "It will be a great learning experience for the students."

Long, along with other students and school personnel, worked feverishly to remove fish, lobsters, crabs and a plethora of sea life from the damaged tanks to smaller holding tanks.

"It scared me when I found out about it," said student Tricia Corman. "I was shocked."

"I feel that this is a major setback," said student curator Gabe Stangl. "I hope we can recover quickly and keep steering towards our goals."

"Fortunately there was no more damage then there was," Long said.

He will not know for a couple of weeks how stress from the incident will affect the animals.

"There's a special responsibility that comes along with being an aquarist," Long said.

The students will be working to clean out the damaged tank and Long expects to return the animals within a week.

The tank was the second exhibit to become part of Cabrillo's nationally recognized aquarium project.