Fire damages Hornby Island Community School before start of school year
Firefighters battled blaze for more than 12 hours
The B.C. school district responsible for the community school on Hornby Island says it's working to determine a plan for the start of the school year after a fire burned at least one third of the school early Sunday.
Firefighters from Hornby Island Fire Rescue and Denman Island Fire Rescue battled the blaze for 12 hours at the Hornby Island Community School.
The fire began sometime after 2 a.m. PT and destroyed the front part of the building. The middle section suffered fire and smoke damage and the back of the building has moderate smoke damage.
School is the heart ❤️ of the community. More pics of the devastating fire at Hornby Island Community School <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/learn71?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#learn71</a> <a href="https://t.co/wPoKZZuqD2">pic.twitter.com/wPoKZZuqD2</a>—@sheilamoris
"The Board of Education is shocked and saddened that one week prior to the start of the new school year at the news of a devastating fire that has damaged the Hornby Island Community School," said Comox Valley school district chair Janice Caton in a release.
Hornby Island lies just off the east coast of Vancouver Island, around 100 kilometres northwest of Nanaimo.
Hornby Island's volunteer fire service used all five of its trucks and 16 firefighters to battle the blaze.
Lots of help
It also asked for help from firefighters from nearby Denman Island. BC Ferries activated one of its ferries to go from Hornby Island to Denman Island around 4:30 a.m. and pick up seven more firefighters plus two trucks from the Denman Island Fire and Rescue.
Hornby Island fire chief, Doug Chinnery said work on the fire was a community effort.
Several groups provided assistance including Denman Island firefighters, BC Ferries, BC Ambulance and a contractor on the island, Chinnery said.
'Community support incredible'
Local residents are dismayed about the damage, but thankful for everyone who worked to keep the school from completely being destroyed.
"My childhood elementary school just burned," wrote Brittany Jenna Andrews in a Facebook post.
Chinnery says residents brought food at the fire hall, which is down the road from the school.
"People just bringing by fresh baked cookies and all sorts of food has come here," he said. "The community support has been absolutely incredible.
Chinnery says he does not know how the fire started. Investigators from Courtenay and the RCMP are expected on Monday.
Meanwhile the school board says it will determine a plan for the school year.
Media Release - Hornby Island Community School Fire <a href="https://t.co/e1wRfLGOS2">https://t.co/e1wRfLGOS2</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/learn71?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#learn71</a>—@ComoxValleySD71