Teachers, community rally to redo back-to-school after fire destroys classrooms

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Teachers whose classrooms were destroyed in a fire at McLane Middle School last month are putting the finishing touches on new rooms with school set to begin Monday.

Firefighters believe a lightning strike sparked the flames that ripped through an eight-classroom building July 19. Most of the teachers had already decorated their rooms for the new school year.

"Literally everything you could possibly think of to be a teacher was in that room," said Alyssa Weissgerber.

Samantha Wilshire said she could see her classroom up in flames in the images from the fire.

"I'm like, 'That's where my desk was. My books were there. There's nothing left. It was just all gone," she said. "It was just a monster of a fire."

Each grade level is housed in their own buildings at McLane and the one that burned down was for seventh-grade students.

School administrators shuffled around computer labs and were able to find new classrooms together for the entire grade.

Teachers who were affected have had to pay as much as $3,000 to buy new supplies for their classrooms. They were given a $1,000 stipend from the district and donations poured in from the community.

"It's very overwhelming because it was, 'What did I have? Why did I have it? Do I need to have it again?'" Weissgerber said.

"It's just so overwhelming to see how many people want to help," added Wilshire, adding she lost a lot of sentimental items that can't be replaced. "The material stuff can be replaced, but that stuff just kind of -- it's gone."

The building that burned down was built in 1917. It has since been torn down and crews have turned it into green space on campus.