Louisiana Fire Destroys High School

November 4, 2008

An overnight fire at the St. Helena Central High School left the building a total loss, state fire marshal Butch Browning said.

“I’d say there are between $4 and $5 million in damages,” Browning said. “The fire destroyed classrooms, administration offices, everything.”

Fire crews were still on the scene Monday morning putting out patches of fire, Browning said. There were also six investigators from the fire marshall’s office at the scene.

“We’re treating the scene as a crime scene,” Browning said.

The fire was called in at 2:36 a.m. Monday by a truck driver who saw the blaze as he was driving on Louisiana Highway 37 south of Greensburg.

“That indicates it was burning for a long time undetected,” Browning said. “It was an opening structure with no fire stops.”

The fire was believed to have begun in the classroom area and spread, Browning said.

The building, which is approximately 15,000 square feet, was about 50 to 60 years old, Browning said. There were no sprinklers, because they were not required when it was built. And since it was a one-story building with easy exits available, they had not been added since.

Browning said there were no injuries in the five-alarm fire.

Six fire departments were called in to battle the blaze which was brought under control around 5 a.m.

The building housed the only high school in the parish, Browning said.

Parish school officials were unavailable for comment.

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