A pre-dawn, two-alarm fire, which fire investigators believe was arson, heavily damaged Resurrection of Our Lord School in New Orleans East early Tuesday, forcing the closure of the school.
No one was injured in the fire, which first was reported at 6:24 a.m. and was extinguished by the New Orleans Fire Department by 6:55 a.m.
Greg Davis, public information officer for the NOFD, said the fire was definitely set, citing “multiple points of origin” inside the building. Investigators were trying to determine if there was a sign of forced entry, Davis said.
“We definitely know it’s arson,” Davis said. “That’s not an accidental fire. It’s burned in different locations.”
In addition to 41 NOFD firefighting personnel who responded to the call, arson experts with the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal combed through the damage searching for clues.
Dr. Si Nguyen, principal of Resurrection School, and Dr. Jan Lancaster, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, said Tuesday afternoon that child care would be offered to those who need it among the school’s 460 students. The daycare program will begin Thursday, Feb. 16, from 7:40 a.m. to 3 p.m., at St. Paul the Apostle, 6828 Chef Menteur Hwy.
Resurrection already had scheduled to take the entire Mardi Gras week off (Feb. 20-24).
“We’re trying to make sure that we will be able to meet the needs of our parents,” Nguyen said, standing outside the school. “We have a lot of working parents, and we realize it’s going to be difficult because they don’t have day care for the next three days. That’s our No. 1 goal right now. At the same time, we’re looking further into the future. With God’s help and God’s blessing, Resurrection will come back.”
More details on the emergency plans will be posted as they are available.
Asked if he could fathom what would cause someone to set fire to the school, Nguyen shook his head.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I really am speechless when it comes to this, because we’re just a typical Catholic school. We service the kids that come to us, and the parents. I’m lost for words, in all honesty.”