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Police investigate fire that forced Barrie high school to close for several days


Students at St. Joseph's Catholic High School in Barrie will not be able to return to school after a fire on Wednesday.

Fire officials confirmed the fire broke out in one of the washrooms, causing significant smoke damage to the restroom and nearby hallways.

All the students and staff members at the Cundles Road school safely evacuated the building.

Due to heavy smoke, the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board (SMCDSB) dismissed students for the remainder of Wednesday. Later that evening, it was announced that staff and students wouldn't be able to return for several days.

The board said air quality testing would have to be done, which would extend into the weekend.

"This means that the school will be off-limits to all staff and students for the remainder of this week. We will not be transitioning to online learning because all learning material and devices are in the school and can't be retrieved," SMCDSB noted.

Students will be unable to retrieve their personal belongings that were left behind when the smoke alarms sounded until the doors reopen.

Parent-teacher interviews have been cancelled for this week, and the semi-formal dance planned for Friday has been postponed.

The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test has also been rescheduled to April 17 and 18.

The board said an email would be sent on Sunday evening to inform families about the progress and whether the school will reopen on Monday.

The cause of the fire has not been released, but Barrie police have begun investigating the suspicious incident.

"If it is determined to be arson, that is a very serious offence in Canada, and the criminal code takes that offence very seriously. You can be incarcerated for a period of up to 14 years," explained Peter Leon with the Barrie Police Service.

Police are appealing to anyone with information on the fire.

"We're taking this investigation very seriously and will utilize whatever resources are required to hold the person or persons responsible should they be identified," Leon concluded. Top Stories

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