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Floodlight caused La Crosse High fire that led to moving prom; no classes Monday

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, April 13, 2014, at 8:07 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, April 14, 2014, at 6:38 a.m.

A floodlight that was left on after La Crosse High School students finished decorating for their weekend prom caused the fire that forced the event to be moved elsewhere and classes to be called off Monday, a school official said.

Students were decorating until about 9 p.m. Friday for the prom, which was to be held in the gym Saturday night. Investigators determined a hot floodlight eventually set fire to a black plastic tarp that was part of the decorations, principal Kathy Keeley told The Eagle on Sunday.

The gym was empty when the fire was discovered about 4 a.m. Saturday.

Both the high school and middle school, which use the same building, will resume classes Tuesday, Keeley said.

But it’s expected to be another two weeks before the gym and auditorium can be used, she said. The western Kansas town, which is about 25 miles south of Hays, has 45 students in middle school and 82 in high school.

Cleanup crews have been dealing mostly with smoke damage. Fire damage was mostly limited to a small portion of the gym floor, Bill Keeley, the school district’s superintendent and husband of the principal, had said earlier this past weekend.

A cost estimate of the damage was not available, Kathy Keeley said.

The prom went on as scheduled. The event was held in the parish center at St. Michael’s Church in La Crosse, which students and other residents had quickly rallied to decorate.

“It came off as well as could be expected,” the principal said. “Everyone had a good time.”

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rickplumlee.

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