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Firefighters respond to blaze in Lakewood High School gymnasium

St. Petersburg firefighters responded to a fire in the gymnasium at Lakewood High School on Sept. 24, 2018. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
St. Petersburg firefighters responded to a fire in the gymnasium at Lakewood High School on Sept. 24, 2018. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Published Sep. 24, 2018

St. Petersburg firefighters responded to a blaze early Monday that began in the center of the gymnasium at Lakewood High School.

According to St. Petersburg Fire Rescue, firefighters arrived on the south side of the school at 1400 54th Ave. S about 5:40 a.m. after a maintenance worker discovered a stack of padded wall mats burning and called 911.

Lt. Steve Lawrence said there is extensive smoke damage throughout the gym and adjoining locker rooms, offices and bathrooms. The floor, which recently had been replaced as part of an $8.6 million renovation program at the school, is burned and water logged, he said, and will likely have to be replaced again.

Students arriving for classes by bus were rerouted to a drop-off point at the west end of the school on 16th Street, according to a message sent out by Lakewood principal Erin Savage. Students who arrived on foot or by car were directed to enter school grounds on 54th Avenue S as usual, the message said.

The fire was extinguished by 6:30 a.m., Lawrence said, and crews began to focus on smoke removal and clearing the scene. Classes went on as usual, but the gym remained closed through the day.

No students were at the school at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, and the cost of the damage has not yet been determined.

Staff Writers Megan Reeves and Thomas C. Tobin contributed to this report.