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Fire At Detroit’s Paul Robeson Academy

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A fire in May heavily damaged the building of Detroit's Paul Robeson Academy. (WWJ Photo/Bill Szumanski)

A fire in May heavily damaged the building of Detroit’s Paul Robeson Academy. (WWJ Photo/Bill Szumanski)

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DETROIT (WWJ) - About 435 Detroit students will finish the academic year in a neighboring school after a fire heavily damaged their century-old school building.

- More photos here –

At least ten fire trucks spent the morning battling the blaze at Detroit’s Paul Robeson Academy.  No was was hurt, but flames tore through the upper floors of the five-story school, at Linwood and Fenkel, for several hours.

WWJ’s Terri Lee reported at 8:30 a.m. that firefighters on towers were pouring water on the building.  A water department worker said water pressure was hampering efforts to put the flames out.  Some firefighters were sitting on their trucks earlier in the morning because they didn’t have water for their hoses.

school fire0510 Fire At Detroits Paul Robeson Academy

(WWJ Photo/Bill Szumanski)

The roof of the school was gone as of 7 a.m. with flames still shooting from the top of the five-story building.

Former teacher Fred Paramore heard about the fire and went to the scene.

“Just hate to see this,” Paramore said.  “I hate to think it was arson, but if it was electrical, why didn’t it go up between eight and five?”

Detroit schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb said he was “devastated,” but “happy and glad nobody was in the building and injured.”

Administrators will be working to put 300 Robeson students in Thurgood Marshall school, which can hold up to 600 students.   Bobb said he wants to keep students from Robeson together.

“We have to get teachers and administrators together and our best case scenario we’ll be able to bring those students to Thurgood Marshall tomorrow (Wednesday), but if that’s not the case at least by Thursday,” Bobb said.

Bobb said the school was also supposed to hold summer school classes, but the school won’t be available.

Students will get just a few days off due to the fire. He said the district is now scouring other schools for books, desks and chairs for the displaced students. 

The district’s website said Robeson Academy is a school of choice which means enrollment is based on a grade point average of at least 2.5, good citizenship and a pledge of parental support and participation.

The fire remains under investigation. Stay tuned to WWJ Newsradio 950 for the latest.

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