Lightning strike does not stop classes in Ludowici - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Lightning strike does not stop classes


A lightning strike burned the roof of Smiley Elementary School's gymnasium. But it didn't stop classes anywhere else. 

Lunchroom workers and custodial staff saw smoke when they came to work at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning.

"They pulled a fire alarm and Ludowici fire department, police department and others got here very quickly and put out the fire," explained principal David Edwards.

The fire burned through shingles and plywood in a 4 x 8 foot area. Inside the gym, a blackened area the same size on the ceiling - and water on the carpeted floor - were the only visible signs of damage.

But the whole thing put parents like Pamela Carlton on edge.

"I got a phone call from someone telling me about it two minutes after I'd sent my kids on the bus," she said. "By then there was nothing I could do. It made me very uneasy that they hadn't canceled school."

Edwards said they moved P.E. classes to other places on campus and taped off the gym and it's entrances. He said canceling school would have created more confusion, especially for parents who had to leave work to get their children and for youngsters forced to return to an empty house if parents couldn't leave work.

Edwards said the timing of the strike was fortunate. Any earlier and it would have had a head start before the workers arrived and saw it. Any later and the school, particularly the gym, could have been full of students.

"That's scary because this is an elementary school. These are small kids," Carlton noted.

Crews began cleanup and repair work by midmorning Wednesday. Edwards did not have a timetable on when it would be completely fixed.

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