Stewart Valley School severely damaged in fire after series of lightning strikes

·2 min read
Stewart Valley School, which is also used as a community centre, erupted into flames Friday morning.  (The Real Village of Stewart Valley/Facebook - image credit)
Stewart Valley School, which is also used as a community centre, erupted into flames Friday morning. (The Real Village of Stewart Valley/Facebook - image credit)

The Village of Stewart Valley, Sask., located 35 kilometres north of Swift Current,  is mourning the damage done to its school by a fire.

In a Facebook post on Friday morning, the village said it was hit by a series of extreme lightning strikes between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.

The village said that one strike hit the Stewart Valley School, which is also used as a community centre. The building caught fire, and local residents flooded the internet with videos and photos of smoke billowing from the structure.

Nobody was in the building at that time.

"This complex was the centre of activity for our residents of the village and the neighbouring community. The loss of this complex is devastating for all who utilized it. It is especially hard on the teachers and students who were preparing to start a new school year Sept.1," read the Facebook post.

In an email to the CBC Friday, the Swift Current Fire Department said that at about 7 a.m. CST it was notified of a structure fire at Stewart Valley School.

The fire department responded to the scene with 12 firefighters, two fire apparatuses and one department vehicle.

"There was active smoke and flames upon arrival and crews have been working to extinguish the fire throughout the day," read the email.

While the village posted that lightning caused the fire, the Swift Current Fire Department said the cause of the fire is yet to be determined, and more will be known upon completion of an investigation.

Joanne Booth, communications co-ordinator with the Chinook School Division, said that due to the extent of the damage, the school will not be operational for the coming school year.

"This is a devastating and traumatic loss for our Stewart Valley School community. Chinook will be providing counselling and supports in the community for staff, students and school families," Booth told the CBC.

The Real Village of Stewart Valley/Facebook
The Real Village of Stewart Valley/Facebook

The division's emergency management plan has been implemented and Booth said it is currently working on an operational plan for the upcoming school year.

"We will be meeting with staff and school families as soon as possible. Our thoughts are with the community of Stewart Valley, and everyone connected to the school and the memories it holds."

Meanwhile, the village thanked the mayor and community members for helping, as well as the RM Fire Department and Swift Current Fire Department. Farmers and others brought trucks of water, and many contributed food, coffee and water in the wake of the fire.