How a heater and a plastic chair shut down Lynchburg’s Munro Elementary

Lynchburg & Central Virginia News

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Restoration is under way inside Paul Munro Elementary School. On November 27, a fire caused damage throughout the building.

Fortunately, it was in the middle of the night, and nobody was hurt.

“It was frightening,” said Principal Donna Baer, “and it just makes me very sad that once again, our students are out of the building.”

Now, students are back to remote learning until January 4th, but that switch would have been different in any other year.

“It would have been very difficult,” said Baer, “because we’ve had so much experience, sad to say, with all the things that have gone on with the pandemic. Our teachers have had experience with transitioning to remote, so we were prepared.”

It’ll take a few more weeks to clean the school.

“We didn’t have a lot of fire damage,” said Steve Gatzke, the Director for Finance and Operations for Lynchburg City Schools, “but we had quite a bit of smoke damage.”

Gatzke says the fire marshal identified what started the fire. He says it was a heater in a second grade classroom. The fire got so hot, it melted a nearby plastic chair.

“When plastics burn, they put off a black, oily soot that has just gotten everywhere, up and down this hallway, and then even got into other areas of the building through the HVAC system,” said Gatzke. “We pulled down ceilings in three classrooms and the whole hallway. They were the worst contaminate, everything else is just being cleaned.”

Gatzke says they are still trying to determine why the heater caught fire and says they will be replacing it with a different model.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

News tips

Do you have a news tip or breaking news to share with WFXR?  Submit your tip here.

Latest News

More News

News Tip Form