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Fire forces 270 students to be dispersed

BY CRAIG GILBERT craig@northernlife.ca Students and staff from Algonquin Road School will be split up and will attend classes at four different schools starting Wednesday because of the serious fire that closed the school Thursday.
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BY CRAIG GILBERT

Students and staff from Algonquin Road School will be split up and will attend classes at four different schools starting Wednesday because of the serious fire that closed the school Thursday.

It?s believed an electrical fire was the cause of the blaze which forced students from Algonquin Public School.
The 270 students will resume classes on Wednesday at four alternate locations until their home school is repaired.

?We are making sure that our alternate school locations have classroom facilities ready for our Algonquin students.

Algonquin students will have no classes on Monday and Tuesday. They will go to classes on Wednesday at the four locations,? said Gord Ewin, director of education for the Rainbow District School Board.

Rainbow District School Board administrators spent Friday examining options and putting measures in place to accommodate the Algonquin students. Students will attend:

? Long Lake Public School, 4420 Long Lake Road: For Junior Kindergarten, Senior Kindergarten;
? R. L. Beattie Public School, 102 Loach?s Road: For Grade 1, and Grade 2-3;
? Lockerby Composite School, 1391 Ramsey View Court: Grade 3-4, Grade 4 and Grade 5;
? Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School, 275 Loach?s Road: Grade 6, Grade 7 and Grade 8.

?Ideally we wanted to place them in one school facility. But there isn?t enough space at any one school. So we have developed a plan to have certain grades attend school at four locations, relatively near to their former school,?
Ewin says.

?We know students will miss being in their own school building. But we are making every effort to make them
comfortable in their alternate schools until our Algonquin building is brought to a safe state for their return.?

Doreen Dewar, board chair, says, ?We ask students and parents to understand we will make their temporary stay as short as reasonably possible and we ask for their cooperation.

?In fact, our parents and staff have already been very supportive. I commend our staff for conducting such a safe and efficient evacuation and transfer during Thursday?s fire.?

For safety reasons, there is no access to the Algonquin school building until Monday from noon to 6 pm, when parents and guardians can pick up any of their children?s belongings.

Parents or guardians may call 522-6168 for more information.

All students and staff were safely evacuated from the school. Staff led students to nearby St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School.

The fire broke out in one of the classrooms about 2 pm Thursday afternoon.

The school has about 270 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 8.

Several worried parents arrived on the scene and were assured their children were taken out of the school safely.

The fire caused extensive fire and smoke damage inside the school.

The cause of the fire was not immediately understood at the scene. Damage has been estimated at about $100,000,
and was confined to two classrooms and an office.

Germain Gagnon works at a small car dealership across the road from the school.

He said he saw sparks flying from the hydro wires during the fire, when flames reached several feet above the roof.

Greater Sudbury fire chief Donald Donaldson said the incident is still under investigation, but he suspects an electrical fire may have started the blaze on the roof where wires enter the building.

Hydro to the building had to be cut off before the fire crew could get to work.

At least two fire trucks and an ambulance attended the scene. Flames could be seen through a hole burned through the wall at the roof. As firefighters tore away slats of white siding, the extent of the damage became clearer.

The frame of the building at one end looked to be completely burned. Where siding was removed, only black skeleton remained.

About 2 pm, it was announced the school was conducting a practice fire drill. Students didn?t realize there was an actual fire in the building until they got outside.

By 4 pm, a gaping hole wrapped around the room, which according to a former student, is adjacent to the principal?s office and stands as an extension unto itself of the building.

Alex Berens-Firth, daughter of Colin Firth, who recently placed third in the mayoral race, said her little brother, Zach, would have been in that classroom.

She and other Lo-Ellen students who stopped by for a look at the damage said the classroom extends right to the roof, indicating it had a vaulted ceiling.

?There?s no level above it,? one former student said.

A decision would be made as quickly as possible as to where to put the students until a full assessment of the
situation is made, said Ewin.

For more information, contact David Brazeau, communications officer, at brazead@rainbow.edu.on.ca or at 674-
3171, ext. # 217.



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