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Classes cancelled after early morning blaze at Calgary charter school

The Calgary Police Service’s arson unit is investigating the suspicious blaze

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The Calgary Police Service’s arson unit is investigating the cause of a suspicious early morning blaze at a high school in southeast Calgary that has shuttered the school for the rest of the year.

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Crews responded to Foundations for the Future Charter Academy’s south high school campus, Dr. Norman Bethune School, on 86th Avenue S.E. in Acadia just after 2 a.m. on Monday.

Officials say the fire started outside the building in a storage area and damage has largely been contained to the exterior, though some smoke made its way into the school. No injuries were reported.

The chair of the school’s board of directors, Jeff Wilson, said school security cameras captured an individual lighting a fire near the school early Monday morning. That footage has been shared with police and fire investigators.

Calgary police told Postmedia the fire has been deemed suspicious and the arson unit has taken over the investigation. Officers are reviewing the security camera footage but the force said it remains unclear whether the fire was set intentionally or accidentally.

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Dr. Norman Bethune School in Acadia was damaged by a fire early this morning.
Dr. Norman Bethune School in Acadia was damaged by a fire early this morning. Gavin Young/Postmedia

“The damage to the interior and exterior of the building is extensive and will be unusable for the remainder of the year. Until the investigation by Calgary Fire and Calgary Police is concluded, we won’t be able to assess the building’s long-term usability,” said Wilson.

Wilson said the school is working to transition its roughly 500 students and dozens of staff members to online classes in the near term but the school is working with the provincial education ministry, the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School Board to find in-person opportunities for students to finish out the year.

“Our students and staff have had to deal with so much adversity throughout the pandemic and just to have this layered on top of it after what has been a very long two years is very, very challenging,” said Wilson.

The building is currently leased to the public charter school by the Calgary Board of Education.

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mrodriguez@postmedia.com

Twitter: @michaelrdrguez




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