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No classes Tuesday, after fire at Indianapolis Catholic school

Fire at St. Jude School on McFarland Road
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Posted at 7:34 PM, Jan 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-20 22:23:03-05

INDIANAPOLIS — There will be no classes Tuesday at St. Jude Catholic School on the Indianapolis south side following a Monday night fire.

At the time the fire broke out, about 19 Cub Scouts and 30 adults were in the school learning how to respond to a fire by practicing the "stop, drop and roll" drill. They ended up with a real-life experience.

According to Indianapolis Fire Department Battalion Chief Rita Reith, the children ranged in age from kindergarten to second grade. And it was one of the kindergartners who first noticed smoke and told adults.

Interim Principal Beth Meece said the children and adults got out of the building safely.

Firefighters arrived at the McFarland Road school about 7:10 p.m. and began a 10 minute search for the source of the smoke. It was traced to a second floor storage room.

By 7:35 p.m., the fire was under control. Meece described damage as minimal. but school will be closed Tuesday for clean up and utility work. Classes are expected to resume Wednesday.

Rieth says the fire was caused by spontaneous combustion of a pile of decorative straw in the storage room. The fire spread from the straw to other items in the room.

The St. Jude ELM will be open for preschool and PreK Tuesday since that building was not impacted by the fire.

St. Jude is a kindergarten through 8th grade school located next to Roncalli High School.