ENDERBY – School was cancelled for around 230 Enderby high school students Monday after a fire extensively damaged a women’s bathroom at their school on Friday.
Restoration crews worked through the weekend to clean up the damage and A.L. Fortune Secondary is expected to open its doors again Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the police investigation into the fire continues and the RCMP say they have identified a suspect.
Fire officials were called in just after noon on Friday. When they arrived the fire had been extinguished by the sprinkler system but the washroom was full of smoke.
“There were three kids that were walking down the hallways and could smell smoke and hear a crackling noise,” said Enderby fire chief Kevin Alstad. “They informed one of the teachers who came out and pulled the fire alarm right away.”
The fire chief says there was extensive damage to the washroom, which remained behind plastic sheeting today.
The fire involved a burning toilet paper dispenser in a washroom stall.
“The site of the fire had to be gutted and we had to remove the ceiling tiles and anything that we thought might be smoke-affected,” said school principal Gene Doray.
The cleanup headaches didn’t stop there, the fire and water damage also meant building material with asbestos in it was no longer “encapsulated.”
“In some of the mud for the drywall they found some asbestos and so that is in the process of being removed. We wouldn’t allow people to return unless we were given the thumbs up, said Doray on Monday. “ We are confident tomorrow that we will be returning our students and staff to a safe building.”
When students do go back to class Tuesday, it won’t completely be business as unusual.
The wing of the school where the fire took place will remain closed as cleanup work continues.
The principal says when he talks about the fire with students on Tuesday he’ll have a positive message.
“On a day like tomorrow [I’ll talk] about how to be supportive of one another and what can we do if somebody is struggling,” said Doray.
RCMP say they are still investigating what took place at the school on Friday.
Police have a suspect but aren’t confirming whether he or she is a student at the school and no one is in custody.
RCMP say they still have more interviews to conduct about this case.