Russellville school opens to some students after fire

First graders will join second grade students at West Elementary School on Friday.

Posted: Nov 14, 2019 4:00 PM
Updated: Nov 14, 2019 10:03 PM

Hundreds of second graders are back in class after their school caught fire earlier this week.

The fire broke out in the computer lab overnight Tuesday, at West Elementary in Russellville. The classroom where the fire started and was contained too is now boarded up and fire tape is wrapped around the entrance.

"We're trying to make it as normal as possible," said Russellville City Schools Superintendent, Heath Grimes.

The cafeteria at West Elementary school is still blocked off with 'do not enter' signs, because of smoke damage caused by the fire in the adjacent computer lab.

"It's almost business as normal we just didn't get to serve lunches in the cafeteria or breakfast," said Grimes.

Students are eating sack lunches in the gym for the time being. The soot left behind is being cleaned up in phases for each grade. Hallways are being mopped too. Grimes said more students will be back Friday.

"That is the expectation that first graders will be there tomorrow and kindergartners will start back next week," said Grimes.

Grimes told WAAY31 their insurance adjuster went over the damage to the classroom and the technology lost. They believe the fire caused about $300,000 in damage but that number could rise.

"There are a lot of things that ended up being added after the fact," said Grimes.

On Thursday, firefighters, police officers, and the Russellville mayor went to the high school on the same campus for a Thanksgiving style lunch. Grimes said it's more special this year given everything they've been through this week as a community.

"I think it just shows a unity and a family piece that we are really proud of here in Russellville," said Grimes.

Grimes said it could take about six months for the computer lab to be back to normal. They are working on a plan to fully clean the cafeteria and get it up and running as soon as possible.

How the fire started is still under investigation, but investigators said nothing looks suspicious.

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