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L-M back to school after fire damage, asbestos

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Damage into hundreds of thousands of dollars

The Laurens-Marathon Community School resumed classes for all students on Wednesday, following cleanup from a fire Jan. 17 and efforts to deal with asbestos found in the building after the fire.

Students missed seven class days. School officials are still working on a plan to make up the days.

At approximately 1 a.m. Monday Jan. 17, the Laurens Fire Department responded to a fire alarm at the school. The firefighters encountered heavy smoke coming from a fire in the industrial arts shop area.

The Laurens Fire Department was assisted by the Marathon Fire Department, the Havlock Fire Department, the Laurens Ambulance and Police, and the Pocahontas County Sheriff's Department.

An investigation by the Iowa State Fire Marshal and the Laurens Fire Department as to the cause of the fire is ongoing. The majority of the damage from the fire was contained in the industrial arts shop area, but smoke damage occurred throughout the high school and Old Main buildings. The west wing elementary building and the 1998 addition, a gym, music rooms, multipurpose room, and locker rooms sustained minimal smoke damage.

Damage to the school building and its contents is estimated to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The district has employed the services of National Restoration Team of Des Moines for the cleanup of the building and its contents. By Wednesday, all except the industrial arts shop and classroom, the ICN room, and the second floor classrooms in the high school were in use. Alternative classroom plans are in place.

On Wednesday at 8:20 a.m., high-school students reported to the old gym and middle-school student reported to the new gym for briefing assemblies. Elementary students reported to their normal classrooms. Students in grades 9-12 were also advised to bring book bags, paper, and pens/pencils to be used until their normal lockers were cleaned and ready for use.

On Tuesday, the State Fire Marshal approved the building for student occupancy in areas that will be used for classes.

Students were advised that parking will be limited on the east side of the high school. The east entrances of the high school are not being used and students are instructed to enter the building through the front lobby.

Superintendent Mike Wright said Tuesday that asbestos abatement was just being completed in anticipation of full cleanup by National Restoration.

"That's been a pretty big factor for us in terms of cleanup," Wright said. Wright said cleanup crews hit the area of the greatest damage from the fire first, then determined that the area needed to be checked for asbestos. Wright said the district's insurance carrier would cover the cost of asbestos abatement since it was considered part of the cleanup cost.

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