School Shut Down By Fire

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WILKES-BARRE -- Fire broke out Thursday morning at a school in Luzerne County.

It started around 5 a.m. at St. Nicholas/St. Mary Catholic School on South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre, according to school officials.

More than 350 students from pre-k through eighth grade have today and tomorrow off from school, all because of a fire.

Other than the broken windows, there's little damage to the outside of the modular unit connected to the school. But inside, desks are charred and books are burnt in the school's library addition.

"Thank God the children weren't in the building at the time and nobody was injured. That's the important thing. You know, eventually we can rebuild with books and everything else," said Principal Sister Mary Catherine Slattery.

Sister Mary Catherine Slattery says a nun who woke up early to grade exams saw the smoke around 5 a. m. and called 911.

Firefighters responded from the city's southside station just a few blocks away from the school on South Washington Street.

The fire chief praised school staff and the nuns for shutting the fire doors after class on Wednesday. Nearly everything in the library was destroyed by intense heat and flames. But the fire chief says a fire door and the fire wall kept the intense heat and the flames from spreading to the computer lab next door. Most of the computers there still work.

"Everything was done right by the staff. They had all the things that need to be closed were closed. It kept the fire contained. The firemen were here on the ball," said Monsignor Joseph Rauscher.

Several parents brought their kids to see what the fire did to the library just feet away from several classrooms. Msgr. Rauscher says thanks to the fire doors  the cleanup inside the main building shouldn't take very long.

"Remove the odor and stains and clean from the smoke down. We certainly won't be using the library anymore this school year."

Officials with the Diocese of Scranton, and city code officials will need to do an inspection before St. Nicholas/St. Mary Catholic School can reopen.

They hope classes can resume on Monday.