Lightning likely cause of vacant school fire

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) – Officials say lightning is the likely cause of a four-alarm fire that tore through the upper story of a vacant elementary school in north St. Louis.

Building inspectors were expected to be on the scene Sunday morning to assess the damage and determine the future of Hempstead Elementary, which has been empty for 10 years.

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"This is a nice old building," St. Louis Fire Department Chief Dennis Jenkerson said, adding that it has a fairly new gym. "It's worth saving."

The St. Louis Fire Department first received a call about the blaze at 6:30 p.m., and later called in additional crews from Richmond Heights and University City. At 8:05 p.m., authorities say the fire busted through the roof.

"It went to four-alarms rather quickly," Jenkerson said.

Jenkerson said firefighters didn't see any signs that anyone had been inside the building at the time of the blaze.


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