Students, teachers in Oconto assisted by community


OCONTO – Community support is coming to the aid of students and teachers in Oconto who are burned out of their school for a while.

Oconto High School sustained $5 million in damage after a fire Wednesday morning. No one was injured.

Thick, black soot was visible on walls and ceilings at the school Friday, when FOX 11 got its first glimpse at the inside of the school.

A look at the damage to the men’s bathroom at Oconto High School, Friday, April 18, 2014. (Courtesy: Paul Davis National)
A look at the damage to the men’s bathroom at Oconto High School on Friday, April 18, 2014. (Courtesy: Paul Davis National)

Some supplies that students and teachers need are also damaged, so Shopko Hometown in Oconto is giving the district $1,000 to spend at its store.

“Pretty much anything. We have paper, pens, notebooks, binders, supplies. Anything that they would need for the students,” said Sandi Reed, the assistant manager of Shopko Hometown.

Investigators say the fire started in a men’s bathroom. The cause is still undetermined.

Classes will be moved to the middle school until at least May 12.

Superintendent Sara Croney says neighboring school districts are also helping out.

“We have carts, rolling carts, given to us by Oconto Falls and Lena School District to assist us,” said Croney.

First American Lutheran Church, which is near the middle school, will let high school students park in its lot.

As students return to the middle school Monday, crews will be working at the high school around the clock.

The work is being overseen by Paul Davis National. The Milwaukee-based contractor specializes in large loss restoration projects.

Its senior vice president of operations, J. Murphy, says the structure of the building was not severely damaged.

“The ceiling systems, everything above the ceiling systems, walls, lockers, cavities. Basically anywhere air can travel, we have to clean,” said Murphy.

He says the timeline to get the high school running again is ambitious but possible.

“Three weeks is not a lot of time for a job like this,” said Murphy.

More than 200 workers will be at the school each day to work on cleaning.

In the meantime, Croney says learning will continue after a little help.

“Oh, absolutely,” said Croney.

She says except for a $5,000 deductible, the repair costs will be covered by insurance.

High school classes were canceled for the rest of the week after the school was evacuated Wednesday. The

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