FIRE DAMAGES CHATSWORTH HIGH ASBESTOS REMOVAL MAY HAVE TRIGGERED SCHOOL BLAZE.
CHATSWORTH - Arson investigators were looking Monday into the cause of a suspicious fire that damaged seven classrooms at Chatsworth High School, which is closed for asbestos cleanup.
Although the fire complicates the cleanup work, it is not expected to delay the school's reopening Wednesday, said a spokesman for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
``We've called in additional workers today to make sure we can get the school open by Wednesday,'' district spokesman Shel Erlich said.
Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Bob Collis said that arson investigators were probing the incident, but he declined to elaborate.
The fire apparently broke out inside a computer lab at 9:40 p.m. Sunday, Fire Department spokesman Jim Wells said. Firefighters extinguished the blaze in 20 minutes, but not before it caused $235,000 in damage to surrounding classrooms and the lab. The heaviest damage occurred in the computer lab, which was filled with new terminals that the school had installed just two weeks ago, Principal Dan Wyatt said Monday.
Wyatt said four unaffected classrooms had been rewired to accommodate the computer lab work, but it was unknown if that was what started the fire.
Portable classrooms will be set up on campus to replace those that were damaged.
Asbestos cleanup operations began at the school Saturday, a day after officials said they became aware of an asbestos problem at the school at 10027 Lurline Ave. during a routine inspection of Proposition BB electrical maintenance and repair work.
Wyatt said Friday that workers may have cut through asbestos-containing materials in the ceiling. After another check, officials closed the campus.
School administrators, faculty and parents will meet in the school gym at 6:30 p.m. tonight to discuss asbestos work and the fire investigation, Erlich said.
Photo: Southern California Air Quality Management District inspector Israel Laurance enters fire-damaged Chatsworth High.
John Lazar/Staff Photographer
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Mar 7, 2000|
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