HELENA – Hundreds of students were out of school Tuesday at C.R. Anderson Middle School after a fire broke out in a classroom and sprinklers flooded part of the building.

Around 3 p.m. Monday, school district officials believe a light fixture caught fire.

Faculty and staff were evacuated from the building.

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Students had already been released for the day, and there were no injuries. 

Parts of the hallway and basement are now cordoned off as investigators perform tests for lead and asbestos.

Kalli Kind, Director of Support Services at Helena Public Schools, said lead dust between the basement and first floor may have become airborne and is now the primary concern.

Samples have been sent to an out-of-state laboratory with results expected Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re proceeding on the worst case scenario right now as far as our clean up,” Kind said. “Based on the results that we have tomorrow, we may change that course.”

If results Wednesday show the building is safe from lead and asbestos, school can continue as early as early as Thursday.

Otherwise, more cleaning will need to be done.

Ultimately, Kind says it’s about the safety of the students.

“Our goal is to of course make sure the school is safe for kids to return. That’s a number one priority. We’re not going to compromise that to get kids in here sooner. Once we have the confidence that the school is safe, we’ll release it back to the district,” Kind said.

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