Three-alarm fire at Lee Elementary school visible from I-275

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The Tampa Tribune reports that that the fire at Lee Elementary School on Tuesday evening did not appear suspicious.

Firefighters were notified just after 7 p.m. and the blaze quickly escalated into a three-alarm fire, Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Jason Penny said. They reported seeing heavy smoke and and flames emanating from the northwest portion of the roof.

The school was not being used as a shelter for Hurricane Irma evacuees, but almost 329 students and 49 staff members will be displaced. More units responded, but eventually the roof on the northeast side of the three-story brick building collapsed.

Investigators were considering whether the fire could be linked to restoration of electrical power in the area.

According to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser website, the value of the building is $2.7 million.

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Hillsborough County requires 18 months of public input before a deciding school board vote regarding the name change proposition.

The school system says Lee Elementary and the district have received an outpouring of support from other schools and the community and will soon release information about ways people can donate school supplies or help with other donations. The school is named after Confederate general Robert E. Lee, a symbol of racism and oppression for many.

The Lee Elementary Magnet School of World Studies and Technolog was built in 1906.

Lockhart Elementary is next door to Young Middle Magnet School, where older Lee students will spend the first couple of weeks until portable classrooms can be prepared at Lockhart.

The Hillsborough County school district has insurance on its school buildings and is reviewing its policy, Superintendent Jeff Eakins says.

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