Garrison Elementary Students Return to School after Fire - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Garrison Elementary Students Return to School after Fire

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A fire that scorched a Garrison elementary classroom is believed to have been started by a nine-year-old student playing with a lighter.

The fire was called in last Wednesday after school hours.

There were no injuries and the students and staff who were doing homework, safely evacuated the building after the smoke alarm sounded.

Tuesday is their first day back to school since, and students and staff are staying positive in light of what happened.

"I think the kids were nervous, you hear a fire in your school, you never know what little guys are thinking, they think the school burned to the ground, what's it going to look like inside, we greeted them at the door, we had a staff meeting this morning, just trying to make it as normal as possible." says Michelle Fuller/Elementary Principal.

It's their first day back to school since a fire on Wednesday, and students and staff have a tighter seating arrangement.

They have doubled up many classrooms on the main floor, being short six rooms with smoke damage, and the library--which sustained water damage.

The top floor of the building, where the fire was started, is closed off to students.

"It's hard for me as an adult, I'm the principal, I didn't spend seven hours every day in here, this is their home away from home."

Cleaning crews are working to erase the damage, including soot, asbestos from the ceiling and burned materials.

It will take a long time for the cleaning crews to get this back into a safe learning environment, until then, students just keep on with their studies.

"We just try to look at the positive of the timing, no one was hurt, things can be replaced." says Fuller.

"They've adjusted really well, and I think it helps that everyone's really calm, we're just going to go on with our lives." says Markelle Schmaltz/2nd grade teacher.

The McLean County chief deputy says they believe the fire was not started to cause destruction, but rather was caused out of curiosity.

A fire marshal is still investigating what happened, and will be visiting with staff and students in a couple of weeks.

As far as cleaning goes, in the best case scenario, they will have two more classrooms open in a couple of weeks, but they could possibly be doubled up the rest of the school year.

Mrs. Fuller says the school received two donations of 500 dollars from local businesses Tuesday morning.

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