Classroom Catches Fire, School Closes Early

Firefighters battled a blaze inside a South Jersey classroom early this morning and once the flames were out, students still didn't get back to classes as normal.

The fire burned inside Pinelands Regional High School along Nugentown Road in Little Egg Harbor Township around 5 a.m., according to Superintendent Dr. Robert Blake.

There were no injuries.

Ocean County dispatchers said that the fire spread to two alarms before it was brought under control after about an hour.

The extent of damage wasn’t immediately clear. As SkyForce10 hovered overhead, firetrucks could be seen parked outside the building as crews pulled hoses into the school.

Dispatchers said firefighters managed to contain the blaze to the one classroom but smoke filled much of the building.

Students and staff began arriving at the school at the normal time around 7:25 a.m. They were asked to meet on the football field as they waited out a delay so that firefighters could clear the scene.

Blake said they got into the building around 9 a.m. and began their day on a revised schedule.

The 10th to 12th graders were forced back out of the building however about 90 minutes later when a false alarm went off. Blake said that after 30 minutes they decided to dismiss students at 11:25 a.m.

The fire marshal still hasn't released a cause for the blaze, Blake however said it appeared to have been caused by accidentally by a faulty outlet.

Classes will resume as normal Thursday with the exception of the burnt classroom, which will remain closed.

While no students were injured, some parents believe the school should have immediately canceled classes and that their children were put at risk. Krista Harrsch believes the school had an ulterior motive for having an early dismissal rather than no school at all.

"I feel it's all because they're worried about all the snow days and pushing graduation day," Harrsch said.

Blake denied this claim.

"Certainly our calendar and with graduation and plans that are being made, it would be very difficult for a lot of people to make those changes at this point in time," Blake said. "But that's not going to be the overriding reason behind it."

Some students who spoke to NBC10 say they were fine with the school's decision however.

"They count it as a day and we're already getting out June 26 anyway," said Dan Macphee. "I don't want graduation pushed back anymore." 

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