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No word yet on cause of blaze that destroyed a Kamloops elementary school

Kamloops residents look at the aftermath of the fire that left a Brocklehurst school extensively damaged on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. S
September 06, 2019 - 2:53 PM

KAMLOOPS - As the Kamloops school district works to find a place for the students and staff displaced by the fire that ripped through their elementary school last night, fire investigators are working to figure out what caused the blaze.

No one was hurt in the fire that gutted Parkcrest Elementary School in Kamloops's Brock neighbourhood last night, Sept. 5. Black, thick smoke could be seen billowing from the structure from across the city.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted out his sympathies to the students, staff, and families affected by the blaze.

"Schools are where our kids learn, grow, & start to accomplish their dreams – to see one destroyed like this is heartbreaking. I’m thinking of the all the Parkcrest Elementary School students, teachers, staff & families who have lost an important part of the Kamloops community," wrote Trudeau.

The superintendent of the Kamloops-Thompson School District Alison Sidow said at a news conference today, Sept. 6, the school board has a tentative plan of where to place students but they cannot release those details yet to the public. Sidow says the goal is to keep the 350 students and 40 staff members together.

Hundreds of people gathered across from Parkcrest Elementary School last night as an intense fire tore through the building.

Parkcrest Elementary School in Kamloops was destroyed by a fire on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. Pictured is what is left of the structure the next morning, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019.
Parkcrest Elementary School in Kamloops was destroyed by a fire on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. Pictured is what is left of the structure the next morning, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019.

Kamloops Fire Rescue assistant chief Steve Robinson said the investigation to determine the cause of the fire could take several days.

Wes Anderson, a resident in the area says he smelled burning plastic from his home nearby.

“There were well over 300 people out on the road and on the schoolyard,” Anderson said.

Firefighters took a defensive approach to the fire when they arrived and did not attempt to go inside, according to Robinson. The school, which was built in the 1960s, did not have sprinklers.

Because the school was left extensively damaged by the fire parents have been advised to keep their children home until Sept. 13.

Rebecca Cichon has kept her four-year-old daughther, Eva, home from school today, Sept. 6, after a fire destroyed the elementary school she attends.
Rebecca Cichon has kept her four-year-old daughther, Eva, home from school today, Sept. 6, after a fire destroyed the elementary school she attends.

Rebecca Cichon, a parent of a student at the school, is thankful she and her husband have work schedules that will align with supervising their four-year-old child who will be home next week.

“I’m very fortunate that I am working part-time and my husband works shift rotation so between the two of us we are off next week,” she said.

Organizations and even private citizens across the city have offered spaces to accommodate parents of students affected by the fire.

The school board's chair Kathleen Karpuk said it could take up to two years to have the school rebuilt at the earliest. Teachers and staff at Parkcrest Elementary School will be compensated for their regular salary and hourly wages for the next week. They will be working from the Henry Grube Learning Centre as they wait to learn more about the next steps.

Kamloops Fire Rescue fire crews spent hours battling the blaze at Parkcrest Elementary School in Kamloops, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019.
Kamloops Fire Rescue fire crews spent hours battling the blaze at Parkcrest Elementary School in Kamloops, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Kirstin Bond

Sidow said the goal is to have teachers in front of their students by Sept. 16.

"Everything is still on the table, we are working with the city looking at all options, we do have a preferred plan and we will be able to advise the public and staff of the plan early next week," Sidow said. 

The replacement value of Parkcrest Elementary School is between $18 to $20 million. School officials say they will be focusing on getting Parkcrest rebuilt.

Parkcrest Elementary School in Kamloops goes up in flames, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2019.
Parkcrest Elementary School in Kamloops goes up in flames, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2019.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Kirstin Bond

Kamloops Fire Rescue fire crews spent hours battling the blaze at Parkcrest Elementary School in Kamloops, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019.
Kamloops Fire Rescue fire crews spent hours battling the blaze at Parkcrest Elementary School in Kamloops, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Kirstin Bond

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