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Arson Fire Closes Elementary School

The fire at Stewart Alternative Elementary in German Village caused an estimated $100,000 in damages. The Columbus Fire Department says there was extensive damage to the structure of the building. Battalion Chief David Whiting says it will need a lot of repairs before it can re-open. "The school is obviously going to be shut-down for a while when you have that kind of fire. It did get involved in the structure and created extensive damage there," Whiting says. The Spokeswoman for Columbus City Schools, Kim Norris, says the building is almost 150 years old. "It's a very beloved school, and certainly we're all very sad to see the fire. It's a beautiful structure and the building itself is a wonderful part of the community. We're extremely upset to see that, but we are moving forward," Norris says. Norris says the district is not sure when Stewart will re-open, but they do have a plan for its students and teachers. Beck Elementary, a mile away, will be used while Stewart is being repaired. Beck is currently unoccupied. "It's just recently been used as swing space or a space to house our students from Livingston Elementary. They were in there two years while there building was renovated and then they went back to Livingston. So the building is in great shape and will be ready for school on the very first day," Norris says. Fire investigators have charged David Cunningham with arson after he was found inside the school at the time of the fire. Cunningham is not an employee of the district. Jen Monroe, WOSU News.