Thursday, June 13, 2002

Fire at school won't delay classes

By Earnest Winston,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — The fire that ripped through Glenn O. Swing Elementary School a week ago won't delay classes for the school's 350 students, scheduled to resume Aug. 19.

        “We have every reason to believe that the school will open on time,” Superintendent Jack Moreland said Wednesday after a meeting among district, school and insurance company officials.

        He said students will be housed in the undamaged part of the school.

        “From an educational perspective, it makes an awful lot of sense if we are able to keep them together as a school,” he said. “It's going to be inconvenient to do it this way, but we very much want to keep them together.”

        The explosion that ignited a fire at the school June 6 occurred as two Cinergy workers were repairing a gas meter at the school. District leaders initially said there was “zero” chance the school would reopen on time. The explosion and subsequent fire blew out part of the school's wall, causing extensive fire and smoke damage.

        The cause of the blast in a mechanical room near the cafeteria has not been determined. There is still no damage estimate.

        Terry Wardlow, 45, of Northside who suffered third-degree burns to one arm and was burned on his face, back, chest and other arm, was in serious condition Wednesday at University Hospital, a spokeswoman said. Lee Williams, 48, of Groesbeck, who sustained minor burns, has been released.

        Five other people inside the school, which had ended regular classes when the fire occurred, were not injured. Summer school classes scheduled at Glenn O. Swing were moved Monday to Sixth District Elementary.

        Within a week, structural engineers should be able to tell school officials how much of the building can be used by the start of school.

        “We absolutely would not use the building until we had a total blessing from the structural people,” Mr. Moreland said. “That will determine what other plans we have to make — how many other rooms we have to come up with.”


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