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Heidi Shaffer, Published November 13 2010

Stove caused fire in Lidgerwood classroom

A classroom stove caused Tuesday’s fire at Lidgerwood Public School, said Deputy Fire Marshal Jerry Crane.

Papers and other combustibles placed on the stovetop ignited when someone accidentally flipped on a breaker that operated the stove, Crane said.

The stovetop was located in a former home economics classroom and had not been used for “a number of years,” Crane said.

Over time, the four burner knobs had been turned into an “on” position and activated when the breaker was flipped, he said.

The fire was ruled accidental, and no charges are being considered, Crane said.

In hindsight, the school could have better labeled or pulled the breaker out of the panel, Crane said.

“I don’t want to second-guess the administration. Maybe they felt they may have had to use that stove,” he said.

The blaze that started about 5 p.m. Tuesday destroyed two classrooms and caused heavy smoke damage.

“The smoke is through every inch of the building,” Principal and Superintendent Tony Grubb said Friday morning.

Grubb did not return a later call regarding the cause of the fire.

Damage estimates were not available, but Grubb said Tuesday’s fire was larger than a 1999 blaze that caused $300,000 in damage to the school.

Electricians and plumbers were in the building Friday morning, attempting to restore utilities in the K-12 building, Grubb said.

Classes will likely resume Wednesday, with high school students attending Wyndmere Public School and grades K-8 being divided among facilities in Lidgerwood.

Parts of the school could be usable in about three weeks, but Grubb said that is only in a “best-case scenario.”

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511