School evacuated after fire breaks out

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Nearly 500 students were evacuated when a fire broke out at an elementary school near Wasilla.

The fire Friday at Tanaina Elementary was originally reported as an explosion, prompting the state Division of Emergency Services to alert Anchorage School District officials as a precaution.

Fire officials later said it did not appear anything exploded at the school. The said they considered the fire an isolated incident.

No one was injured in the fire, which broke out about 10:15 a.m. in a storage room in the girls locker room adjacent to the school gymnasium, according to Central Mat-Su Fire Chief Jack Krill.

The blaze was confined to the room, which held books, paper and other school supplies, Krill said. But the school was filled with smoke.

The fire is considered suspicious because of where it started, said Alaska State Troopers Capt. Simon Brown.

''A room doesn't usually catch on fire by itself,'' he told the Anchorage Daily News.

He ruled out any electrical cause. The state fire marshal's office also is investigating.

Several fire crews and Alaska State Troopers responded to the blaze, which was put out within a half hour.

Krill estimated damage to the school at $5,000. Students were taken to outside portables after the fire started. They were later bused to Wasilla Middle School where they could be picked up by parents, said Kim Floyd, school district spokeswoman.

''Under the circumstances, we think it went very well,'' she said.

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