February 27, 2024
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By John Garlock

A fire that broke out in the early morning hours of La Plata elementary school caused extensive damage.

On Friday, the fire was first reported at 4.57 am.

A neighbor living near the school discovered that there were flames.

Gunner Sawyer is a volunteer firefighter with La Plata Fire and Rescue.

Sawyer explained that as he was about to leave for work, he noticed the fires in the office at the elementary school. He called 911.

Sawyer said to KTVO that the fires grew quickly in size.

Sawyer stated, “When I first got here the fires had already started to spread through the ceiling about 4 to 5 feet.” I left and went to the station. Then, I came back. “By the time I got back, there were flames probably 10 to 15 feet high coming out of the ceiling.”

The main office, administrative offices connected to it and perhaps one classroom were the areas most affected by the fire.

Smoke and water caused major damage to the school library located across from the office.

The crews reported that there is likely to be smoke damage in the whole building.

The fire did not occur at the school.

Fire forced the school administration to cancel Friday’s classes.

Interim Superintendent Rick Roberts stated that alternative plans would have to be developed for approximately 160 students, their teachers and staff who are expected to be relocated for an undetermined period of time.

Roberts explained that they would try to return the kids to their normal routine as soon as possible. They will then assess damages and decide what to do next.

La Plata’s Fire Chief Bob Couch said to KTVO that the cause of fire was unknown. The investigation is ongoing. The Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office sent three investigators to spend the majority of Friday looking through the debris and trying to determine what caused the fire.

No injuries have been reported. Kirksville Fire Department and Adair Fire Department assisted La Plata Fire and Rescue.

This is an updated statement from La Plata School administrators.

It appears that the fire was contained in the area around the office frontage. At this point, we are unsure of the exact cause. It is unlikely that either classroom wing was affected. We are unable to enter the building until after the Fire Marshal has completed his investigation. Leaders in the district are working hard to make sure that classes can continue at a different location on Tuesday: La Plata Baptist Church, for many elementary students. On Monday, teachers and staff will meet to finalize the details. The times for bus pickup and drop-off will remain unchanged. Drop off times will be announced soon. As always, students will have access to breakfast and lunch, though the menu may differ. Contact should be directed to the High School Office at 660-332-7001 for all inquiries. Faculty can still use email. Please be patient as we deal with this unfortunate situation. We want to thank you again for your continued support as we continue our journey. Stay tuned for more updates!

Sincerely,

UnVeiled Salon, NEMO Fair Board, and Aladdin Glass located at 1705 S. Baltimore St. Kirksville are collecting school and office supplies.

UnVeiled, 119 West Moore Street La Plata.

This article includes a link to Aladdin Glass’ Facebook post.

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