Great Bridge Middle students move to virtual learning for remainder of week after fire damages areas of school

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Posted at 11:06 AM, Apr 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 11:45:45-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - The Chesapeake Fire Department is investigating after a fire caused damage to areas of Great Bridge Middle School Saturday morning.

According to fire officials, firefighters were called to the school at 7:45 a.m. after dispatch notified companies of a fire alarm activation.

When the first crews arrived on scene, they found smoke inside the school. An active fire was then discovered in the school's shipping and receiving room, and firefighters had to force entry through the steel roll-up door, where several pallets of paper were burning.

The fire was called under control at 8:30 a.m. with no injuries reported. Firefighters then began the process of removing pallets of paper from the building to ensure the fire was completely extinguished.

The school was unoccupied at the time of the fire, officials said.

Units are currently on the scene ventilating the building to remove all remaining smoke.

Investigators have determined the cause of the fire at Great Bridge Middle School to be a wall-mounted electric heater and switch box.

The fire will be ruled accidental. Cleanup efforts are underway to restore damaged areas.

Chesapeake Public Schools released the following statement, saying that virtual learning for GBMS students will extend to May 9 through May 13.

The fire damage at Great Bridge Middle School was contained to and around the auditorium, but smoke damage and odors migrated to other areas and electrical damage caused power outages to several parts of the building. Chesapeake Public Schools has assembled a response team including contractors, indoor environmental inspectors, and smoke and fire damage remediation professionals who are working diligently to address this situation. Our top priority is returning students and staff to the building as soon as safely possible; however, students will remain on a virtual schedule next week, May 9th through 13th, while repairs continue.

We are considering several contingency plans that will allow our students to return to the building after next week. We will provide a status update to families when more information becomes available.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this unexpected event. We are very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused your family. Please know that our priority is to get our students back to school as quickly and safely as possible.