Selwyn school fire tracked to electrical devices in class, hall
Denton fire marshals have pinpointed the ignition source of Thursday's blaze at Selwyn College Preparatory School to a kindergarten classroom and a hallway immediately adjacent to it.
Fire Marshal Rick Jones said Monday that the possible ignition sources all are electrical.
"The area where we believe the fire began contained a refrigerator, a microwave oven, fluorescent lights and interior wiring," Jones said. "We have been investigating the fire since Thursday, and we have found no evidence of any suspicious circumstances."
Jones said some employees interviewed by investigators talked about smelling an odor Wednesday afternoon and evening. They turned off the furnace, he said, and it was off when the fire began. The investigations did not reveal any problems, he said.
"We have completed our part of the investigation. We now have turned it over to the insurance company for further investigation," Jones said.
The fire destroyed the private school's main building. Jones estimated the damage at nearly $3 million, including $700,000 to furnishings.
The fire started in the main part of the U-shaped complex sometime between 6 and 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
The first firefighters on the scene reported the building was three-quarters engulfed when they pulled up. The building had an audible fire alarm but no sprinkler system or alarm monitored by an off-site company, he said.
The school building sits in a complex on U.S. Highway 380 just west of Interstate 35. The building is set back more than 100 yards, uphill from the road.
That gave firefighters poor water pressure from hydrants along the highway, and they asked for help from six county fire departments with tanker trucks to ferry water from the highway to the Denton engines parked near the school.
It was too late to save the building, which contained kindergarten through third-grade classes, fire officials said. They concentrated efforts on salvaging property in the unburned southern area and containing the fire so that it did not spread to the surrounding buildings in the complex.
Fire already was burning in the attic, however, and it eventually spread down the southern extension of the 50-year-old building, burning most of it Thursday.
Firefighters stayed on the scene Thursday night to watch the smoldering debris and make sure it did not reignite and spread to any other buildings on the campus, officials said.
The school has been closed since Thursday, but classes are scheduled to resume today.
DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .