Fire Guts Tampa Elementary School
Pupils and staff from Lee Elementary Magnet School will share the campus of nearby Lockhart Elementary Magnet School.
TAMPA – An fire that began Tuesday (Sept. 12) evening gutted an elementary magnet school causing the relocation of the 329 pupils who attend the school.
Starting Monday (Sept. 18), the pupils and 49 staff members of Lee Elementary Magnet School, 305 E Columbus Ave., will share the campus of Lockhart Elementary Magnet School. Lockart, at 3719 N 17th St., is located just 1.4 miles away from Lee.
Lockhart Elementary has space for nearly 300 more students. Lockhart is also located next to Young Middle Magnet School. For the first two to three weeks, the older pupils from Lee will temporarily use classrooms on Young’s campus, while the Hillsborough County school district installs portable classrooms at Lockhart.
Firefighters were called to Lee Elementary about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 12). When they arrived, they found heavy smoke and flames coming from the northwest portion of the roof. Crews began attacking the fire and the incident commander called for a second and ultimately a third alarm to bring more equipment and personnel to the scene, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.
At one point the roof began to show signs of collapse so the incident commander decided to pullfirefighters from inside the building and began fighting the fire from the outside. By 2:45 a.m. Wednesday (Sept. 13), the fire was under control.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, fire officials said. There are no indications at this time of any foul play and the fire does not appear suspicious.
According to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser website, the value of the building is about $2.7 million. The contents of the school are estimated at $2.275 million for a total damage estimate of $4.975 million.
There were no reported injuries. This school was not being used as one of the shelters during Hurricane Irma. No students were in the building that day because classes had been suspended as a result of Hurricane Irma.
School Superintendent Jeff Eakins Eakins said he is aware that staff members lost personal items and items they cherished in their classrooms and offices during the fire. Eakins has authorized an emergency supplement for every staff member at Lee. All full time employees at Lee Elementary will receive a $1,000 emergency supplement in their bank accounts this Friday (Sept. 15) to allow teachers and staff to replenish items that were lost.
School district grief counselors will be available beginning this morning (Sept. 14) at Lockhart for any students, staff (both current and former),or community members who may need to speak to counselors.
For more on how you can help, go to sdhc.k12.fl.us.
For a video of the fire, go to facebook.com.
Photo from video of Fire courtesy of Tampa Fire Rescue.
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