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Fire chief believes school fire began in principal's office
JEFFERSON COUNTY - by Scott Lawrence
Chief Charles Sonnier of the Labelle-Fannett Volunteer Fire Department tells KFDM News he believes a fire that heavily damaged Hamshire-Fannett Elementary School early Tuesday morning began in the principal's office. Firefighters from several departments had the flames under control within several hours but were still putting out hot spots.
KFDM has been on the scene since early this morning. Watch KFDM and stay with kfdm.com for updates.
Chief Sonnier tells KFDM the hottest part of the fire was in the principal's office where the roof collapsed and that's why he believes the fire originated in that area within the main office. Investigators are trying to determine what caused the fire. The ATF and State Fire Marshal's Office are sending investigators to the site.
The fire burned the office area, several classrooms and the nurse's area. There was heavy smoke and water damage to the auditorium but minimal fire damage. The rest of the school suffered smoke damage.
The superintendent, Pamela Morris, tells KFDM's Haley Bull they're thankful the fire broke out at night when students and staff were away and that everyone is okay. Morris has canceled school for all students in the district, including elementary, intermediate, middle and high school. The district will keep students, parents and staff updated on future plans. More than 500 children attend the elementary school.
Deputy Rod Carroll tells us someone called the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday to report the fire at the school south of Interstate 10 off Burrell Wingate Road, near Highway 365. Firefighters from Hamshire, Labelle-Fannett, Cheek, China and Beaumont are fighting the flames, along with firefighters from three other departments. Carroll says he expects firefighters to remain on the scene throughout the day.
Fire and smoke were pouring out of the building when firefighters arrived. They had to leave the building at about 3:30 a.m. for their own safety and continued fighting the flames from the outside of the school.
No injuries are reported.
Carroll says the school had undergone renovations during the summer. The building is about 60 years old.