Hornby Island Community School heavily damaged by fire

A week before school starts, the staff of Hornby Island Community School are trying to regroup following a fire early Sunday morning.

The Hornby Island Volunteer Fire Department battled the flames with help from Denman Island Fire Rescue.

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“Despite their incredible efforts the school sustained substantial damage,” said the Comox Valley School District No. 71 in a statement on Sunday.

The blaze broke out just before 3 a.m. and crews finished mopping up about 2 p.m.

The front of the school, mechanical and electrical rooms, offices and a staff room were heavily damaged by fire — with the library suffering less damage. The back of the school had smoke damage.

RCMP are investigating the cause of the fire.

Board Chair Janice Caton said the board of education “is shocked and saddened that one week prior to the start of the new school year at the news of a devastating fire that has damaged the Hornby Island Community School, a rural island school that not only serves the many students and families of Hornby Island but the entire community.”

School district staff travelled to Hornby Island Sunday to assess the damage and say they will be working with the community to implement a plan to “ensure the continuity of educational programs on Hornby Island for the coming school year.”

The school district says everyone pitched in to help save the school or support first responders.

In addition to the volunteer firefighters, British Columbia Emergency Health Services, B.C. Hydro and B.C. Ferries staff “worked through the night to shuttle emergency crews to the island” and residents all helped, said the school district.

The school district says it is working on a contingency plan and will release updates on its website.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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