Cookeville Elementary School Destroyed By Fire

Cookeville, Tenn. (AP) -- Officials say a Cookeville Elementary School was destroyed by fire early Saturday, just before students were scheduled to return.

The cause of the fire at Jere Whitson Elementary School, a kindergarten through 4th grade school and one of the oldest school buildings in Putnam County, was not immediately known.

No one was injured or in the school at the time of the blaze, which started around 5 a.m.

Fire Chief John Kendrick says the fire was already shooting through the roof when firefighters got to the school, located about 80 miles east of Nashville.

Residents near the school smelled smoke and called emergency officials to the school, part of which dates back to the 1950s.

Deputy Director of Schools Willard Gore said the school's nearly 400 students may have to be placed in other elementary schools which have available space.

Students were to return to the school from a two-week spring break Monday.

Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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