A fire of undetermined origin destroyed the Andrew Jackson Elementary School at 2216 Linn Street early today, as firemen from eight companies battled the blaze in sub-freezing temperatures.
Williamsport School District officials said the valuation of the school and its equipment placed on the property by a Pittsburgh firm just this summer was approximately $100,000. Insurance covered about 80 percent of the loss they said.
It was the worst fire in the school district in 36 years.
The Williamsport Fire Department sounded a general alarm for the fire at 4:15 a.m., 20 minutes after the fire was called in by an unidentified caller who lived near the school.
Responding were Williamsport Companies 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 and Truck A. First Ward Fire Company, South Williamsport, DuBoistown Hose Company, and Loyalsock Fire Company. The firemen fought the blaze with the temperature at about 10 degrees above zero.
Many school officials who were in Atlantic City for a conference were notified of the fire and were expected back in the city this afternoon.
Meanwhile, a special meeting of the school board was called for this evening by Board President, George Lamade at the administration building on Third Street. To determine where the displaced 289 students will be placed.
Chief Michael Clark of the city Fire Department called the last of his men from the scene at 11:05 a.m., nearly eight hours after the fire was reported.
All companies except 5 and 6 left the ruins about 9 a.m. Those two remained behind for clean-up work.
The chief said the fire probably began at the rear of the building near the chimney and heating unit.
A wind estimated at 25 miles per hour aided the flames in sweeping the red brick structure.