At the time of the fire, issues in Mercer County Schools were rampant. Stories on consolidation, bond questions and fire safety requirements had all made the front pages of the Times in the months proceeding the fire.
Plans to consolidate Oakvale High School into PSHS had sparked questions on whether the Board of Education could maintain promises of equal athletic status to OHS students and if the Board somehow influenced the State Fire Marshall's representative, Frank Ubea, to declare OHS a fire hazard.
Ubeda, had also turned in over 60 demands for compliance for Mercer County Schools to the BoE earlier that year. The board had acted on these recommendations just the week before the fire. Violations had included: insufficient smoke detectors, no steps at fire exits, the need to install fire doors, as well as various maintenance issues.
An unusual amount of suspicious activity that included: the fire at PJHS, another two the same day at PSHS, a fire at BSHS on Dec. 16, 1977, and a break in at Camp Creek School; was not related to any of the above issues according to Clinton Lilly the Superintendent of Schools. Lilly said that he definitely does not think that there was any connection, "If I did I would be the first to say so."
Board member Harold Tomchin spoke about future fire safety in the schools saying, "emphasis should be made toward looking carefully at small items of housekeeping" and reminded schools not to become lax about fire drills.