The Superintendent of Plainfield Schools is searching for a new school for more than 300 fourth-grade and fifth-grade students after a fire damaged a school late Tuesday night.
Firefighters said they were called to The Plainfield Memorial School on Canterbury Road shortly before midnight after getting a report of an activated fire alarm.
When firefighters arrived, they determined there was an active fire in the building and additional fire departments, including Moosup, Central Village, Atwood Hose, Danielson and South Killingly were called in to help fight it.
The fire was located in several administrative rooms on the second floor of the school, firefighters said. It took about an hour to get the fire under control. A significant amount of smoke was also ventilated from the building.
"The heat was so intense in the location of where it was that it burned through one of the water mains so most of the damage we're seeing is water on the second level and the first level in the rear midsection of the building. And that seeps across the cafeterias, into some of the classrooms. It'll be a lot of recovery including a 20-foot hole in the ceiling," said Plainfield Schools Superintendent Kenneth DiPietro.
DiPietro guesses there's between $500,000 to $1 million worth of damage to around 12 to 15 rooms including the cafeteria and library at the school. He said the insurance company will need to come assess the damage.
DiPietro believes it the building will not reopen until Christmas, as the school is recovered and cleaned up enough to allow students to be safe inside again. One of his main concerns is mold and smoke inhalation.
The first step is patching the roof, which takes six to eight weeks. The next two to four months will involve cleaning the water and soot and clearing the building of contaminants that the busted water pipe carried.
"Three hundred and fifty, 360 students need a place to be housed where they can be safe and educated," he said. School is still scheduled to begin on August 29.
The school system is working to find a building that can accommodate students for the start of the new school year. DiPietro said the students cannot be put into the neighboring Plainfield Central School because it cannot hold that many kids.
“We would like a facility that large that could handle approximately 18 classrooms. There aren’t a lot immediate, and it has to be within a reasonable distance," DiPietro said.
Staff and students will be notified through the school messenger system that sends out calls. There will also be a number for parents to call to have questions answered. Officials still aim to have all kids starting school on Aug. 29.
The Plainfield Fire Marshal's Office and the Plainfield Police are working with Connecticut State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit to determine the cause and origin of the fire.