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Fire Forces School to Close for Several Days

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FAYETTEVILLE — There will be no classes Monday or Tuesday for students at Fayetteville's Berean Baptist Academy after a Friday afternoon fire.

The fire started in a storage area near the gymnasium of the school.

School had already let out for the day, but 50 students from the afterschool program were evacuated. No one was injured in the fire.

"When I walked into the gym, smoke started coming out of the shed over on the far right corner," says student Ben Botts. "I told my mother to call 911. When I came back in, the building was filled with fire and smoke and caught the ceiling on fire."

Roger Gasken, principal at the school, says he is pleased with the way the staff handled the situation.

"As soon as the fire alarm went off, they exited the building in a very good manner and moved away from the building," Gasken says.

Gasken says none of the children were in the gymnasium at the time of the fire.

Fire investigators say there was extreme structural damage to the building.

Pastor Steven Byrd says the kindness of the community has already come through.

"Somebody came up a little while ago and gave me $50," Byrd says. "He said that he were not a member of the church but he said, 'Let me give the first $50 toward rebuilding."

Because of the damage, school leaders say the 350 students who attend the school will have classes at the main church building until the school year ends on May 25. The school was about to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Fire investigators believe a faulty light switch may have been the cause of the fire.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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