SF school damaged by fire needs help to reopen

SF Examiner file photo

A San Francisco charter school damaged by a five-alarm fire on Dec. 22 is asking the community for help as officials scramble to recover in time for the start of the new school term.

The annex building at the Creative Arts Charter School was one of four buildings damaged by a five-alarm fire that started in the alley between 1502 Golden Gate Ave. and 1015 Pierce St. shortly before noon.

The damage to the building included the loss of six classrooms as well as the library, cafeteria, community meeting space, art studio, counselor's office and main office, school director Paul Greenwood said. In addition, teachers lost their curriculum and teaching materials and supplies and the school lost computers, sports equipment and art and office supplies.

The loss was made worse by the fact that the school had just moved classrooms into the annex building to allow for renovations in its main building at 1601 Turk St. With the annex building now unusable due to smoke and water damage, officials are scrambling to move classes back into the classrooms that were undergoing demolition, Greenwood said.

“Basically, we're just grateful that school wasn't in session and our building didn't burn down,” Greenwood said.

School was slated to resume on Tuesday, but Greenwood said that has been postponed to Wednesday to allow time to purchase materials for classrooms. Donations of cash or materials are being urgently requested to help get the school ready in time for the return of students. 

The fast-moving fire caused an estimated $8 million in structural damage to four buildings, injured three people and displaced 41 people before it was brought under control, according to San Francisco fire officials. The cause remains under investigation, fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said today.

The American Red Cross provided assistance to displaced residents, and The Alamo Square Neighborhood Association is collecting donations for fire relief. For more information go to http://alamosq.wordpress.com/.

The K-8 Creative Arts Charter School, with around 275 students, was founded in 1994 and has been at the Turk Street location for around seven years now, Greenwood said.

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