Delta High School staff begins moving back in following fire

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Fire restoration crews work at Delta High School Monday, Aug. 16, 2010 to get the school ready to open again after a fire in the school offices Friday. The fire damaged offices of the principal, secretary, counselor, nurse and the records room. Nearby classrooms also had smoke damage. (Fred Lynch)

Some of Delta High School's staff worked out of their own offices Tuesday for the first time in more than two months.

The high school's principal, counselor and secretaries having been sharing space in Delta Superintendent Nate Crowden's office since an Aug. 13 fire damaged the school's main office area.

The Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department determined the fire was arson, but have still not made an arrest in the case.

"We've interviewed the usual suspects, and we have ideas on who it may be, but we're not getting information out of them," Cape Girardeau County Lt. David James said Tuesday. "That's as far as it goes."

The investigation can be actively worked for up to three years, according to Missouri statute.

While some cleanup from the fire needed to be complete before students returned to class, restoration crews and additional contractors have been working to renovate the most severe damages the last six to seven weeks, Crowden said. Workers tore out and replaced the ceiling and tile flooring, insulation and also repainted all the walls.

Also, computers sent to a company in St. Louis to be cleaned have been returned to the school and are back in use. Although the school's insurance company covers the restoration costs, Crowden estimated recovery costs to exceed $200,000.

"It took awhile to do all that. It looks pretty good now," Crowden said. "It has went faster than we thought it would."

Despite the progress, there's still work to be done.

Crowden said staff has been busy making copies of records saved in the fire. Initially, Crowden thought a lot of student records and schedules had been destroyed.

"I don't know if [there will} be any lost,[CloseDouble] he said. "It's a process still, but, we're actually thinking we're going to be able to salvage most of them."

He added that local businesses have donated copiers so staff could copy records either burnt or water damaged.

The 175 high school students started classes again Aug. 23, more than a week after the blaze. They'd only had one day of school before the fire occurred.

"They hate that it happened, but they seemed ready to be back in school," Crowden said.

And despite the arson suspect not being in custody, students and staff aren't letting the dilemma bother them.

"We got right back on schedule. It was a pretty good turn around," Crowden said. "There's not much talk of it among students."

Recently, concerns of having to extend the school year because of the fire were put to ease after the state commissioner of education made the decision to forgive the time off. Crowden said that puts the students back on schedule to be released May 13.


Pertinent Address:

324 N. Liberty St., Delta, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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