Fire, burst pipe discovered at St. Elizabeth School

A fire and flooding of the gymnasium at St. Elizabeth School canceled classes Wednesday, but teachers and students will be back in the classroom today.

St. Elizabeth R-4 Superintendent Toni Taylor said she received a call about 6 a.m. Wednesday alerting her to a “possible fire and definite flood” of the school’s gym, which also has the school’s cafeteria, coach’s office, locker rooms, music room, weight room and concession stand. The gym is a separate building from the classroom facilities.

“They had found a fire, and it had actually put itself out, luckily for us,” Taylor said. “We had about 4 inches of water, because not only was there a fire but … a pipe burst and flooded the whole (building).”

Taylor said the concession stand was “a total loss” due to the extensive damage, but the rest of the building needed to be cleaned up. By 6:30 a.m., she said, about 20 community members were in the building “with brooms and mops and squeegees,” ready to help clean the damaged areas.

“That’s what you do in communities. You rally the troops, and you get it done,” Taylor said. “When you have a community that works as hard as St. Elizabeth, you can’t help but have a good outcome.”

Considering there were no injuries, Taylor said the situation could have been a lot worse.

“It’s property, and property can be replaced,”

Taylor said. “You have to have the best attitude.”

Fire investigators will be at the school today, she said, to determine the cause of the fire as school officials have no idea what started the fire or caused the pipe to burst. She said she could speculate that either the fire started in the concession stand and ruptured a pipe, which then flooded the building and put out the fire, or the pipes themselves burst for some reason causing an electrical fire, but it’s difficult to know for sure.

Insurance company representatives and a restoration team were on site Wednesday.

Classes resume today, with children eating lunch at the community center until the cafeteria is cleaned up and ready to use again, which Taylor said should be done by Monday.

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