Firefighters work to extinguish flames at Fernway Elementary School.

Fire causes significant damage to Shaker Heights, Ohio, elementary

July 11, 2018
No injuries were reported in the fire at Fernway Elementary School.

A fire has caused major damage to Fernway Elementary School in Shaker Heights, Ohio. No one was injured.

WJW-TV reports that the campus will be closed until further notice. School officials are looking at their options for finding classroom space for the displaced students if the building cannot be repaired quickly. About 300 students were expected to attend the school in 2018-19.

Firefighters were called to the school just after 11 a.m. Tuesday. Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney says it appears the fire started on the roof. 

Only a few persons were inside the building at the time, and they escaped without injury, school officials say.

Sweeney says the style of the school’s old roof made fighting the fire difficult.

“They’re pitched roofs with heavy timber and wide open all the way around in these buildings so the fire just made its way," he said. "Once it gets up there and it’s such a size that it’s almost impossible to get crews up there with hand lines to get up there and try to put the fire out."

Officials say a contractor was working on the roof when the fire started, but they can’t say whether the fire was related to the crews’ work.

The blaze left large sections of the roof missing

The Shaker Heights School Board issued this statement after the fire;

"Just like our entire community, members of the Shaker Heights Board of Education were shocked and saddened by the fire that did significant damage to Fernway Elementary School late this morning. Thankfully, no one was injured and the few staff that was in the building was quickly and safely evacuated. We want to extend our personal thanks to Chief Sweeney and the entire Shaker Heights Fire Department, as well as assistance from 14 neighboring fire departments, for their heroic efforts in bringing the blaze under control. We also want to thank Interim Superintendent Dr. Stephen M. Wilkins and his staff for the speed and grace with which they handled the situation. Finally, we want to thank the Fernway community for its support and words of encouragement. We share your tears. The District will work with the Fire Department to assess the magnitude of the damage. The Board and Administration will work together to consider our options for the Fernway community for the coming school year. As always, we will keep you informed. This is an unfortunate setback for all of us. Despite these difficult circumstance, we will work together to come up with a plan that meets the needs of the community."

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