Two days after an early-morning fire at a Barrie public school, the hallways are dark and filled with soot.

Someone broke into Assikinack Public School in Barrie early Saturday morning and started a fire. Today, police estimate damage at $1 million.

Crews spent the day hauling away debris. Ceiling tiles have been placed in bags and tossed away. It's a mess and school board staff say it's going to take a long time to clean up.

There was “smoke throughout the school and very black smoke so everything is affected,” says Erin Schwarz.

 The school’s more than 300 students and were kept home today while the board assessed where to send them.

The fire broke out around 2 a.m. Saturday morning and police say the school's alarm system went off. The first police officer to arrive saw someone inside but didn’t see the suspect leave. Officials now say it appears the fire started in the custodial office.

The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office and Barrie police are still investigating and that’s made more difficult because the school isn’t equipped with video surveillance

The clean-up could take weeks.

“It was heartbreaking. Yes was really difficult,” says school principal Shelley Clark.


Because Assikinack will remain closed for the rest of the school year, students will be bused to one of four schools tomorrow morning: Allandale Heights, Hewitt's Creek, Hyde Park and Mapleview Heights.

Parents are told to drop their kids off at Assikinack tomorrow as they would any other day. The students will be bused out and brought back to Assikinack at the end of the day.

Before-and-after-school care at Assikinack will be relocated to Hyde Park. Parents can drop their kids off and pick them up there.

Students who attend the before-and-after-school program who have been relocated to Mapleview Heights will be shuttled back to Hyde Park for childcare at the end of the day.

Det. Const. Justin Frye says someone is going to notice a family member’s clothes smelling like fire and is asking parents to pay close attention in the coming days and come forward if they know anything.