Blanchard fire

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On Dec. 6, a fire significantly damaged Blanchard Elementary School in Cape Girardeau. According to Cape Girardeau fire inspector Ivan LaGrand, the fire started when an idle copier overheated in a teachers' workroom. No one was injured, though fire and smoke damage affected three rooms.

Blanchard has about 350 students and 40 teachers. With the damage, the school district was left to determine how and when classes would resume. In stepped Lynwood Baptist Church and many others from the community.

Lynwood, which is not charging the district for the use of its building, was determined to be the best location for classes to take place considering the building's space and kitchen, which is approved by the health department.

When classes resumed Dec. 9 at the church, a number of volunteers from the community greeted students, helping make for a seamless transition.

Contributions to a food assistance program, BackPacks for Friday, were destroyed in the fire. However, with the community's support they have already been replaced.

Teachers, staff and administration, along with many parents, have also helped make the transition as smooth as possible. In fact, the night of the fire a number of teachers volunteered to notify their students' parents that school was canceled the next day.

With Christmas break about to begin, it's expected that classes will resume at Blanchard on Jan. 4.

Thank you to everyone who helped during this trying time. Anyone who has experienced the nightmare of a home or office fire knows the challenges that must be addressed in the days following the disaster. Thanks to the school officials' leadership and the unwavering support from the community -- with Lynwood at the forefront -- this tough situation has been made a little easier.

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