A hallway in C.R. Anderson Middle School is sealed off while school officials

A hallway in C.R. Anderson Middle School is sealed off while school officials wait on the results of a lead test Tuesday afternoon. 

Thom Bridge, thom.bridge@helenair.com

No lead problems have been found in CR Anderson Middle School, which will reopen Thursday, Helena school district Superintendent Jack Copps said. 

The school canceled all classes Tuesday because of the smoke and water damage caused by a fire in the building Monday afternoon, which likely started in a fluorescent light. Officials again canceled classes Wednesday as they awaited results of lead tests sent to Billings as a result of the fire. 

The school abated lead paint in the ceiling a few years ago, but didn't treat above the ceiling. Copps said the lead paint was technically contained, but the school wanted to test it after water ran over the lead contaminants.

"We got the test results back. We have no lead problems, so school will be back in session tomorrow," Copps said Wednesday. 

Copps said the absence of lead will save the school money, but he is still concerned about asbestos. The school will have to abate asbestos if the tile flooring comes up. 

Copps said the fire may have caused as much as $350,000 worth of damage to the school, down from initial estimates of more than $500,000.

Since the damage is extensive and can't be immediately cleaned up and repaired, part of the school will remain sealed off. Copps said a large special education area and two classrooms won't be accessible until school is out for the summer. Students who would typically be in those classrooms will be moved to rearranged computer labs. 

School officials are checking all of the lighting in the building and hired Servpro to clean up the water from the sprinkler system. 


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