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After the fire: What's next for Fox Elementary in Richmond?

School will be closed Monday and Tuesday before shifting to virtual learning
Posted at 9:12 AM, Feb 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 14:47:06-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- As Richmond firefighters checked for hot spots following the devastating fire at Fox Elementary School in Richmond, Richmond Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras was communicating with impacted families.

"I'm terribly saddened to share that a fire caused catastrophic damage to Fox Elementary School last night. Fortunately, no one was injured. Nonetheless, as you can surely imagine, the Fox community is reeling this morning. Please keep them in your prayers," Kamras' Saturday morning email read. "We are working with Principal Jacobs on a continuity of learning plan for Fox students, and will have more details on this tomorrow for families and staff."

Later Saturday morning, Kamras shared a link to the "Fox Elementary Fire Response" fund where people can donate to impacted students and staff.

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Fox Elementary School in Richmond was damaged by fire.

"To everyone who has reached out with offers of help, we can't thank you enough," Kamras' email continued. "To our Fox students, families, and staff: we are here for you and will do whatever it takes to ensure that the remainder of your school year is filled with loving care, joyful learning, and peace."

The school will be closed Monday and Tuesday before shifting to virtual learning.

"We want to give everyone time to process the events and make the necessary academic preparations," Kamras said.

School leaders are working to figure out which RPS property the Fox community will call home as the damage to the historic building is assessed.

"We are looking at a couple of options," Kamras said. "One of those is Clark Springs Elementary, which we sometimes use as swing space. We're exploring the feasibility of that right now, but because it's going to take a little bit of time, we're switching over to virtual in the meantime."

Principal Daniela Jacobs said school spirit prevails.

"This building has stood for 110 years, educating thousands and thousands of youngsters in our community," Jacobs said. "It's not about a building. The Fox spirit lives within each and every one of us in this community. We will manage this together."

Property records indicate the structure is valued at close to $4 million. It is unknown if Fox Elementary will be rebuilt on its current site.

RPS officials said the building was insured.

Fox Elementary School suffers 'catastrophic damage' in Richmond fire

An alarm went off at Fox Elementary, along the 2300 Hanover Avenue, just before 9:30 p.m. Friday, according to dispatch records.

Richmond Fire Chief Melvin Carter told reporters the department is not certain if it was a fire alarm, a motion detector, or a burglar alarm. He said they are still investigating what type of alarm was triggered.

The chief said fire crews responded, gained access to the building by letting themselves in and searched the building.

He said they stayed and investigated for nearly 42 minutes, which means they left around 10:10 p.m., and did not notice any fire or smoke while there.

Fox Elementary fire 01.png
Fox Elementary School suffers 'catastrophic damage' in Richmond fire

Carter said they were then dispatched back to the building for a fire call at 10:40 p.m. and found the structure on fire.

"Once on scene, they encountered heavy smoke and flames coming from the top floor above the main entrance. The fire was quickly spreading across the top of the structure," Richmond Fire spokesperson Amy Vu wrote in an email."At approximately 11:09 p.m., parts of the roof began to collapse, so all crews were evacuated from the interior."

The fire was marked under control at about 2:44 a.m.

"Crews will be on scene through the morning to monitor hotspots," Vu said. "No injuries have been reported."

Fox Elementary School was built in 1911.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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