HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — On Tuesday, 8News got the first look inside Baker Elementary School after an electrical fire ripped through the Henrico school on Sunday.
Firefighters say it started in the building’s mechanical room. That room houses the school’s heating and cooling as well as its electrical circuits… all will need repairs before the school can reopen.
There is no power in the building, so workers are using flashlights to go through the building and evaluate damage.
One of the biggest problems inside can’t be seen, only smelled.
Smoke damage is a major is issue. so cleanup crews have scattered professional air scrubbers throughout the school.
“They’re cleaning the air and making sure we get the air back to a great quality in order to bring the kids back in the building,” explains Susan Moore. She is the Director of Construction and Maintenance for Henrico County Public Schools.
Water from firefighter’s hoses forced down most of the ceiling tiles. Insulation may need to be replaced. Wiring is being evaluated too.
But one bright spot amidst the debris is the piles of furniture and classroom necessities. While firefighters fought flames, they fought to save this stuff by covering it with plastic.
Things like books however are more questionable because that paper holds the smell of smoke. So crews will have to try to clean that smoke smell out, if not the books will have to go.
It’s too early to determine when the school will reopen, but Moore maintains it will be at least several weeks.
In the meantime, students have been temporarily relocated to nearby Varina and Mehfoud Elementary Schools.
The district’s transportation department worked out the logistics so that most of the children will be riding the same school bus with the same driver. Only their bus stop times have changed.