Fire damages portable classroom at Grant Elementary School

Sunday, December 30, 2007 | 2:44 p.m. CST; updated 11:12 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008
This fifth-grade classroom at Grant Elementary School, housed inside a trailer, caught fire during the early Sunday morning. Fire crews put the blaze out around 5:30 a.m. and were able to contain the fire to just this one trailer, which sits next to several others on the grounds of Grant Elementary.

COLUMBIA — An early morning fire Sunday damaged the interior of a trailer at Grant Elementary School.

The Fire Department is still investigating the fire and could not be reached for comment.


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The trailer is normally where John Nies teaches his fifth-grade class, but after the flames were put out there was little left to salvage from its charred interior.

Despite the damage, the trailer was still standing, said Lynn Barnett, assistant superintendant for Columbia Public Schools. No one was injured.

Barnett was on hand as Nies went through the process of removing personal items from his former classroom.

Beverly Borduin, the principal at Grant, also came to check on the condition of the structure.

“It’s tragic, but everyone’s safe,” Borduin said.

Borduin said she was called about the fire at 5:30 a.m. and arrived as Columbia firefighters tried to extinguish the blaze.

“The Fire Department was absolutely fantastic. They were right on it, here, taking care of everything,” Borduin said.

The parents of students in Nies’ class have been called and an e-mail to rest of the school’s parents will be sent today, Bourduin said. She added that a science classroom inside the school is available and will be used when the fifth-graders return from winter break on Wednesday.

Nies said was able to gather only one box of possessions. Reflecting on the damage, he joked that now has fewer items now than he had during his first year as a teacher.

Sammy Baugher, one of Nies’ students, and his family came to Grant after getting Borduin’s call so they could survey the damage. Baugher peered through the windows trying to get a look at his former classroom.

Bourduin said she is happy the fire did not happen while class was in session.

Besides Bourduin, 10 other teachers and staff members came to help Nies try and remove personal items from his class rooom and from students’ desks.

“That’s Grant School for you,” she said. “John has a great attitude, he can teach with nothing.”

Missourian reporter Sally Morrow contributed to this report

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