Kemper County School District Tries to Start Recovery

Classes were cancelled Monday due to extensive damage caused by a fire Sunday night at Kemper County High School.

The Kemper County School Board met Monday to try to come up with a contingency plan. Tuesday classes are also cancelled at the high school only. Other school campuses will operate as usual.

The fire was discovered around 10 p.m. According to a preliminary investigation, it's a case of arson and vandalism.

The fire started in a room near the back of the building, a classroom that had been converted into an office used by cafeteria personnel.

"The fire did not spread to any more rooms, but we've got a lot of smoke and water damage to the hallway, and the rest of the building does have smoke damage," said fire coordinator, Ray Luke. "But the worst of the fire was in that one room. Where the fire was, the roof had collapsed; it got that hot. But the cement walls in the building contained it to that room."

The day after the fire,Kemper County firefighters kept a close watch for possible hot spots to make sure the fire didn't rekindle.

Unlike the fire, officials say the vandalism inside the building was not confined to one area.

"There were some things inside the administration office, like someone was looking for something," said Sheriff James Moore. "Also, where they keep the files, that stuff was thrown out and torn all to pieces."

Moore says the petty cash drawer in the office was also burglarized. Investigators are now looking into whether some petty cash and possible lap top computers were taken.

Because of the extent of the damage, Kemper County's fire coordinator estimates that it could take around six months to restore the room damaged by fire, and several weeks to fully restore the other areas.

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