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fire300.jpg Submitted by WWAY on Mon, 12/01/2008 - 5:29pm.

A fire broke out Monday morning shortly after 8:00 at a Pender County elementary school, forcing it to shut down. As a result, parents scrambled to pick up their kids after an emergency evacuation. Firefighters are still looking into what caused the fire at Malpass Corner Elementary School. In the meantime, parents are praising school officials for their quick response. Fifth grader Trent Waitley said, "We thought it was a practice drill until we started seeing cops come up, and then we knew it was for real." The fire started in a boys’ bathroom, and the entire school was evacuated within minutes. Fellow fifth grader Nick King said, "I heard a fire drill, and I was kind of concerned because we were about to go to our next class, and I thought it was just another drill, and we got outside and police cars and everything started showing up." Students were taken to Pender High School while parents were notified about the incident. "I felt like my child was safe," Malpass Corner Elementary parent Jeremy Brown said. "Actually one of the teachers called us personally and let us know what was going on, so I think they handled it real well." Another parent, James Bland, said, "They got them away from the school in case anything else would have happened, so that was great." One by one, parents, relatives and babysitters streamed into Pender High School to pick up the students. No one was injured. The bathroom, parts of the hallway and possibly the media center were all damaged by the heat and smoke. Some students say they just want their school to return to normal. While many of the parents and students said the cause was electrical, the fire marshal is still investigating and has not confirmed that information. Malpass Corner Elementary will be closed again Tuesday.

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