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Fire cleanup expands at Hall Elementary School in Portland

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Fire cleanup expands at Hall Elementary School in Portland

PORTLAND — The School Department will hold another public meeting for Hall Elementary School families Thursday evening as cleanup of the Orono Road school continues for a second week, and possibly longer.

In a statement released late Monday, the department said the independent environmental consultant hired to inspect the school has recommended additional and expanded cleaning of areas of the building affected by a Sept. 17 fire.

Hall classes will continue at Cathedral School on Locust Street as officials continue to wait for the results of the additional environmental testing and the completion of the expanded cleanup and reconstruction.

Hall students began attending classes at Cathedral on Sept. 25, a week after the fire at Hall. A faulty circuit for outdoor lighting was blamed for starting the fire in the building's ceiling. Sprinkler systems dumped 7,000 gallons of water into three of the school's 24 classrooms.

Since the fire, crews have been working to clean the school, checking for mold damage in the walls and drying carpets. Rooms 18, 20 and 22, where the majority of the water damage occurred, are being completely gutted to ensure no mold forms behind the walls or under the floors.

Additional wall areas in the adjoining hallway are also being replaced, according to Monday's School Department announcement.

School officials are still working on a time line for finishing the cleanup at the school with Mark Coleman of Environmental Safety & Hygiene Associates, the firm hired to perform an environmental assessment in the building. Based on that time line, plans will be made for transitioning students back into the classrooms at Hall.

At at public meeting held on Sept. 24, many parents expressed concern that the school was no longer safe for their children, but they were assured by officials that no students would be allowed back into an unsafe building.

“We appreciate the incredible efforts of our students, staff and parents to adapt to these difficult circumstances,” Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said in Monday's announcement. “We will complete the thorough cleaning of Hall as soon as possible and keep the community updated about our progress.”

Thursday's second meeting for Hall School families will take place from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Deering High School auditorium. School officials and Coleman are expected to attend the meeting.

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.