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UPDATE: Morton Elementary to open on time for start of school year despite fire

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Crews were busy Tuesday repairing Morton Elementary School from damage left by a fire that broke out Monday night.

Emergency crews were called to the school on Hull Street around 9 p.m. Monday for heavy smoke and flames coming from the roof.

“There was just smoke everywhere, all up there,” pointed out 18-year-old Osiris Ananukwa, who lives across the street from Morton.

Osiris is one of several people that gathered around the school Monday night. Several pictures and videos were posted to the internet Tuesday of the fire.

“The schools on fire,” said another neighbor Murray Scott of the reaction in the crowd.

Scott said he had been watching Great Lakes Roofing working on the roof of the building all week. A former roofer himself he could only guess what happened. “I don’t know what happened but i assume someone got careless.”

“It looked pretty scary last night,” said Facilities Manager for Benton Harbor Schools Michael Bennand.

Brennand said Great Lakes Roofing was installing new insulation in the roof and were using flammable materials. He described the mishap for ABC 57 News. “The chemical and the heat source they were using caused the fire,” he said. “They tried to put it out and it obviously (the fire) got away from them.”

Brennan says looks can be deceiving though. Only three 2nd-floor classrooms were damaged and only by smoke and water.

Morton will be used as one of Benton Harbors new Kindergarten through 8th grade buildings during the 2012-2013 academic year. Several upgrades to the school were being installed and none were damaged by the fire. “So we’re pretty blessed,” said Brennand.

Ananukwa’s 6-year-old sister is going to Morton this year. “I don’t want her in a broke down building,” he said. It’s good to know everything will just fine by the time the first day of school comes around.

Brennand said Great Lakes Roofing will only be delayed two days in their installation of the new roof.

Great Lakes Roofing did not want to comment on the fire.

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