May seek alternative sites for classes
A fire that originated in the shop area early Monday morning closed the Laurens-Marathon School until further notice.
School Board President Thaine Hopkins said the fire apparently started in the shop area; however, the cause has still not been determined. Hopkins said there was considerable smoke damage and electrical problems at the school.
Hopkins said there were probably alternative sites in the community which can be used for classes. "I'm sure there are facilities they can go to," Hopkins said.
"Our clocks stopped at just a little after 1," said Superintendent Mike Wright of the fire in the early-morning hours. While the extent of the fire was contained to the industrial arts area, Wright said there was smoke damage through the building, particularly the eastern half where high-school classes are held, also known as the 1993 courtyard addition. "That's the place where we're going to have the most damage," Wright said. He said there was not as much damage in the elementary areas on the central portion of the building or the middle school in the upper central portion of the building. Wright said smoke damage needed to be addressed before classes can resume in any part of the building.
"We're very fortunate that our fire departments from Laurens and Marathon and Havelock came when they did," Wright said. "I can't give enough credit to the fire departments." He said quick response by fire fighters helped limit damage to the school.
Wright said the state Fire Marshall's office was on the scene Monday conducting an assessment.
As of Monday morning it remained undetermined when classes would resume. "There's just so many factors that go into that," Wright said.
Wright said boilers were fired up again. He said the main electrical box into the building was located in the shop area where the fire occurred. Heat had stopped when the boilers lost electricity.
Wright said damage included a certain amount of plastic that was burned in the shop area, producing noxious fumes that required an extensive cleanup of the entire school.
"We're trying to look at all of our alternatives," Wright said of other possible sites for classes. "The communities around here always have been willing to help." Wright said classes would move back to the school as soon as it is determined safe to enter the building.
He said a cause remains undetermined.
"At this point, it's still under investigation," Wright said. He said parents should treat the situation as a blizzard and follow the same procedures by listening to area radio stations to determine when classes will resume.