WATCH ABOVE: Parents, students and teachers stopped by École Frère Antoine Wednesday to check out the damage caused by a fire Tuesday afternoon. Fletcher Kent has the details.
EDMONTON — Fire crews continue to investigate what caused a south Edmonton elementary school to catch fire Tuesday afternoon.
Fire crews were called to École Frère Antoine, located in the area of 28 Avenue and Mill Woods Road, around 4 p.m. Tuesday.
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While the cause is still not known, the fire broke out in the school’s portables. A spokesperson with Edmonton Catholic Schools said Wednesday morning school officials have not yet been able to get into the main school building to assess the damage, but several portables will have to be replaced.
“What we do know this morning is that we will have to replace seven of the modular classrooms,” said Lori Nagy.
“We found out that the roof that was being repaired on one of the portables is not the portable where the fire started, so that has been ruled out as a possible cause.”
Nagy said the education minister has already reached out to offer support and said he will expedite the delivery of seven modular classrooms.
Nagy said the school district is working on a plan, which may include using the gym or library as temporary classrooms. Sending students to another school is also a possibility, but Nagy said they won’t have a concrete plan in place until they can get inside the school to assess the damage.
Several parents and teacher stopped by the site to check out the damage Wednesday and said it’s about much more than just the physical structures.
“When I saw it this morning it was pretty heartbreaking,” said Nicole St. Jean, a teacher at the school.
“This is a French Immersion school and it’s extremely difficult to find appropriate resources for the students, so a lot of the teachers spend a lot of their own personal money and time creating resources by hand, on the computer, just so that it’ll fit into their classroom environment.”
Dally Songa said her daughter, who is going into Grade 3 in the fall, was crying when they walked past the school Wednesday morning.
“My daughter, she’s very excited to start Grade 3 but I don’t know what will happen. It’s so sad.”
Fellow parent Jennifer Kojder said it’s tough not knowing what will happen, but hopes the students will be able to stay together.
“We’re a very close-knit school community and I think as parents and teachers we’ll all work together to do whatever we can to keep the kids together… Wherever it may be.”
Nagy said school officials should be able to go inside late Thursday or early Friday. Each portable that was lost was worth about $500,000. The portables were used for Grade 1 and 2 classes.
Updates on the school will be posted to Frère Antoine’s website. Nagy said they hope to have a plan in place by early next week.
A local group has started collecting items for the teachers. You can visit the group on Facebook.
WATCH: Edmonton Catholic Schools comments on fire at École Frère Antoine
*Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Tuesday, August 11, 2015. It was updated at 11:40 a.m. Wednesday.