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School district planning to start Hornby Island school year on schedule, despite fire

HORNBY ISLAND, B.C- School on Hornby Island is planned to start on time.

That’s according to Paul Berry, the Director of Instruction, Health and Safety for the Comox Valley School District. Berry was speaking on Monday, after a destructive fire over the weekend at Hornby Island’s only school destroyed major portions of the building.

Berry said the fire was a tragedy for the community. The incident began around 3 a.m. on Sunday, after the duty officer for the Hornby Island fire department found the front of the school engulfed in flames.

Both the Hornby and Denman Island fire departments fought the blaze for around nine hours, saving part of the building containing the library and classrooms. While those sections of the school suffered smoke and water damage, the front of the school was destroyed by the flames.

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The mechanical and electrical rooms, offices, staff room, and washrooms were heavily damaged, and police are investigating the fire.

Despite the destruction, Berry said staff with the school district are planning on having the school year start on time.

He also said a meeting with the community is scheduled for this Wednesday, with ongoing conversations with a pair of facilities, including the community centre, on the island to act as temporary or long-term school structures.

He believed the school district would be able to provide a “preliminary picture” of the plan by Wednesday.

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“Our plan is to have school up and running on day one, in some form or another, for the students there,” said Berry.

As for whether or not the school building can be salvaged, Berry said it was “early days”, with engineers planning to go by the school once police and insurance investigators had concluded their investigation.

He thanked all the first responders and community members for their actions and support during and after the fire.

The investigation is ongoing with RCMP and insurance investigators

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“It was the epitome of small town B.C coming together to make the best of a tragic situation,” said Berry.

No injuries were reported from the fire, and a cause remains unknown as of this publication.

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