The Roanoke Rapids Graded School District is in the process of determining class schedules for the upcoming week.
“At this point, we’re concerned about the overall air quality in the school. We will make a determination later this weekend regarding classes next week,” said Superintendent Dain Butler in a statement this morning.
Maintenance Director Robbie Clements said in the statement, “Fortunately the fire doors, which are closed when students are not in the building, kept the smoke from filtering to the other classroom areas.”
Heavy soot covered the gym floor as Roanoke Rapids firefighters used a fan to draw the smoke out, a process Battalion Chief Kevin Hawkins said could take between two to three hours because of the density.
Hawkins said the call came in shortly after 9 a.m. of smoke in the lobby of the gym.
The school system said in its statement a custodian working in the school this morning smelled smoke and called the Roanoke Rapids Fire Department. The custodian was working because of the recent flu and cold outbreak to sanitize classrooms.
Hawkins said Lieutenant Kenneth Hollowell, who was off-duty, confirmed black smoke was in the lobby of the gym.
Firefighters went inside to investigate and found a Genie scissor lift “had burned itself out in a back corner.”
The school system said the lift is used to change lights in the gym.
The bandroom area was also heavily damaged with smoke and soot.
A fire and smoke restoration crew will be called in later today to assess the damage.