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Saturday, Sep 23, 2017
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Riverview School fire will disrupt classes

RIVERVIEW - With less than three weeks before the first day of school, the cabinets that remain in the classroom are blackened and charred. The smell of smoke chokes the air. A fire over the weekend has put a damper on preparations for the first day of school at Frost Elementary, located at 3950 Falkenburg Road. The blaze caused an estimated $400,000 in damage. Two of the eight kindergarten classes at the school will be temporarily uprooted because of the fire.
"These two will be in one class together and the teachers will team-teach," said Linda Cobbe, spokeswoman with the Hillsborough County school district. "They don't expect it to be too long, but at least the first couple of weeks." The two teachers affected lost a lot of personal items – books and other teaching materials -- they have bought over the years to help their classes. At least two groups are stepping forward to help. Mosaic has pledged a $5,000 gift to help the school and teachers. It also will sponsor a school supplies drive at two locations with the donations earmarked for Frost. "Helping out the schools is what we do," said Christine Smith, spokeswoman for Mosaic, who checked out the damage firsthand on Wednesday. "That's a lot of work they have to do." The Hillsborough Education Foundation also is helping by offering the two teachers a shopping trip to its school supply store. They can buy pen, pencils, notebooks, glue, items to decorate their classrooms and other materials at the store. On Wednesday, workers were trying to clean the air conditioning ducts and get the smoky smell out of the wing which houses kindergarten and fifth-grade classrooms. A pile of ceiling tiles, drywall and other parts of the building damaged by the fire sat outside the building. A plastic bin holding books such as "Five Little Monkeys Reading in Bed," "The Talking Eggs" and "Aunt Flossie's Hats" sat among the rubble. The fire started after 10 p.m. Saturday and originated in the kitchen area of one of the classrooms. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue has said the blaze was accidental. The first day of school is Aug. 21.

rshaw@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7999
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