St. Cloud Fire Marshal: Lightning Strike Likely Cause of School Fire

Updated: 06/16/2014 6:06 PM
Created: 06/16/2014 5:24 PM
By: Cassie Hart

A lightning strike is more than likely the cause of a fire at a St. Cloud school on Saturday, according to fire officials.

Fire Marshal Mike Post finished his investigation, and said weather data and eyewitness statements indicate lightning started the fire in the attic at Roosevelt Early Childhood Center. Neighbors said they saw a lightning strike around 8:35 p.m., and then smelled burning rubber about 15 minutes later.

The fire department was notified by an automatic fire alarm around 11:30 p.m. and when fire fighters arrived they noticed smoke coming from the roof on the west side of the school.

Crews then entered the building and encountered smoke and heat. According to the fire marshal, the crew pulled back to find a different way to the attic space.

A few minutes later it was reported the roof collapsed and all crews were ordered out of the building. Firefighters then started fighting the flames from outside.

The fire investigation indicated the fire burned for about three hours before it activated fire detectors and sprinklers. According Post, the fire was concealed in the attic and was above all the detectors and sprinklers.

The building had to be torn down in order to completely extinguish the fire and avoid additional flare-ups.

More than 140 students were set to start summer school at Roosevelt on Monday. A meeting was held to figure out other plans for classes.

The fire and police departments will keep the area secured, and permanent fencing will be installed around the building remains.

Photo: Tim Johnson, of St. Cloud, Minn.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

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