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Fire closes West Elementary

West Elementary School closed its doors Tuesday after an early morning fire destroyed the computer lab and filled the majority of the school with smoke and soot.

Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell said the fire began around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, with the school fire alarms notifying 911. Within 20 minutes, Mansell said the fire was contained.

“I was very proud of my guys, how they went out there and did what they were trained to do,” Mansell said. “If the fire would have gone a little bit longer, it would have spread into the cafeteria.”

Instead, all fire and water damage was confined to the computer lab. Russellville City Schools Superintendent Heath Grimes said repairing the computer lab will probably be a six-month project, so students will use Chrome carts and mobile devices to build computer skills until repairs are completed.

Grimes said the computer lab will be blocked off until repairs can be made, but it is not the only concern right now for student safety.

“We could open the school tomorrow, but the issue is that the majority of the school is covered in soot, and some areas are covered pretty heavy,” Grimes said.

Over the next week or two, every item in the school will be wiped down to ensure there is no remaining soot. When the school reopens for students, it will take place a section at a time so cleanup can continue.

Mansell said he and his crew were active at the school until around 6 a.m. helping clean up. Mansell said the cause of the fire is undetermined but does not look to be suspicious. The fire department is still investigating the cause of the fire.