New Bridge Learn­ing Cen­ter

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - METRO - BY SEAN GOR­MAN sgor­man@times­dis­patch.com 804-649-6885 Staff writer Bryan DeVasher con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Hen­rico school closed un­til next week due to fire, wa­ter dam­age.

The New Bridge Learn­ing Cen­ter in eastern Hen­rico County, which closed Thurs­day af­ter an early-morn­ing fire, is not ex­pected to re­open un­til early next week.

Classes were can­celed for Thurs­day and to­day at the cen­ter, where 106 prekinder­garten stu­dents at­tend daily, said Andy Jenks, a spokesman for Hen­rico Public Schools.

“My un­der­stand­ing is that it is pri­mar­ily wa­ter dam­age from the sprin­kler sys­tem,” Jenks said. “The fire it­self was rel­a­tively small.”

The dis­placed pre-K stu­dents are be­ing cared for at home, Jenks said. With Mon­day be­ing the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, the school is not ex­pected to re­open un­til Tues­day, he said.

A small num­ber of el­e­men­tary school stu­dents from around the Hen­rico school sys­tem at­tend an in­ter­ven­tion pro­gram also housed at the cen­ter that pro­vides be­hav­ioral and aca­demic sup­port, Jenks said. Those pupils can at­tend their reg­u­lar el­e­men­tary school while New Bridge is closed.

Fire crews were called shortly af­ter 4 a.m. Thurs­day to the school in the 5900 block of Nine Mile Road, said Capt. Tay­lor Good­man of the Hen­rico Divi­sion of Fire.

The blaze be­gan in a class­room area on the sec­ond floor, Jenks said.

The fire was brought un­der con­trol in about an hour, Good­man said. The cen­ter’s sprin­kler sys­tem was op­er­at­ing as it should, and it helped keep the fire in check un­til fire­fight­ers knocked out the blaze, he said.

The school was closed at the time, and there were no in­juries, Good­man said.

The cause of the fire re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, of­fi­cials said.

A burst wa­ter pipe was dis­cov­ered while fire­fight­ers were search­ing the build­ing for pos­si­ble vic­tims, Good­man said. Fire and school of­fi­cials could not say what caused the pipe to burst.

Crews will clean up the smoke and wa­ter dam­age while the build­ing is closed, Jenks said.

“There was an odor of smoke that lingers to­day, but by next week, we would ex­pect that to be gone,” Jenks said Thurs­day.

A School Board work ses­sion was sched­uled for 1:30 p.m. Thurs­day at the cen­ter’s au­di­to­rium, but that meet­ing was moved across the county to the Board of Su­per­vi­sors meet­ing room on East Parham Road.

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