Fire damages school
Fire damages school
By STU MERRY
A child’s fascination with fire this past week turned into a near catastrophe at Garrison’s Bob Callies Elementary School.
A fire caused extensive damage to Joelle Pechacek’s fourth grade classroom on the southeast corner of the upper level of the original school building.
The fire caused quite a scene. Fortunately, the fire began after school had been dismissed for the day, but several students and staff were still in the building.
Initially, fire marshals suspected an electrical problem caused the fire. But closer inspection revealed that several attempts had been made by an individual using a lighter to ignite paper towels and toilet paper. It was noted the lighter was found at the school by the juvenile.
Video surveillance was reviewed, and a “juvenile of interest” who was in the area at the time the fire broke out was identified. Fire marshals and school officials conducted interviews with a number of individuals, as well as family members. Law enforcement also conducted interviews before making a final determination as to what happened. Reports from agencies involved will be reviewed by States Attorney Ladd Erickson.
Law enforcement is quelling fears that someone will be going around intentionally setting fires.
“It was an isolated incident,” said Chief Deputy JR Kerzmann. “It is our belief that it was not the juvenile’s intent to burn the building down. It was a curiosity thing.”
Wednesday, March 27, a fire alarm went off at approximately 3:45 p.m., shortly after buses had left the school. At first, Elementary Principal Shelley Fuller and staff thought someone had pulled the fire alarm as a prank. Fuller said approximately 25 students were receiving homework help in the south wing of the building.
Then the unthinkable happened. The smell of smoke sifted through the building. Fuller said staff remained calm, ushering students out of the building, following rules learned in previous fire drills.