New Classroom Blessed After Fire

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WILKES-BARRE -- Five months after a fire damaged a school library in Wilkes-Barre, a new one was blessed Wednesday at St. Nicholas - St. Mary Catholic School.

Neighbors and strangers helped replace hundreds of books destroyed by flames.

Students at St. Nicholas – St. Mary School in Wilkes-Barre were excited to bundle up and go outside for the dedication of the new learning resource center on South Washington Street.

Students and their teachers have been without a library or a computer lab for the first few weeks of school.

"Because of that early detection, we have the whole building still standing," said Msgr. Joseph Rauscher.

In May, an early morning fire sparked inside the library of the modular classroom. The books were charred but most of the computer library was spared.

Firefighters say it was an accident caused by a malfunctioning electrical outlet.

Five months later, the learning resource center has been replaced. It was blessed by the church's pastor.

The school's new principal Chris Tigue says nearly 1,200 books were donated after the fire.

"Boxes of books or Barnes & Noble gift cards or cash, it was really overwhelming, the outpouring of support."

The modular classroom is just like the old one. There is a fire door, which separates the computer lab from the new library. There is another fire door which connects to the main school building. Firefighters said keeping that door closed back in May prevented the flames from spreading.

"I thought it spread but thankfully it didn't. Now we get books to read from the library," said sixth grader Daniel Paoloni.

Dozens of kids lined up to give Sister Mary Catherine Slattery a hug. The formal principal who transferred to a school in New Jersey over the summer says it was a heartwarming return.

"Beautiful inside! So I'm sure they'll just love it when they get back inside. Sometimes when you have to do without, you appreciate it more when you get it."