Fire destroys historic Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Tampa

Tampa's historic Lee Elementary Magnet School of World Studies & Technology also known as Robert E. Lee Elementary was engulfed in flames Tuesday night

Fire destroys historic Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Tampa

Lee Elementary School was ravaged by a fire Tuesday evening in Tampa Heights.

Firefighters were notified just after 7 p.m. and the blaze quickly escalated into a three-alarm fire, Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Jason Penny said.

Flames could be seen shooting out of the second floor windows of the three-story building as streams of water were poured onto the crumbling roof, which was brand-new.

The school was not being used as a shelter for Hurricane Irma evacuees, but almost 329 students and 49 staff members will be displaced.

According to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser website, the value of the building is $2.7 million.

Investigators were considering whether the fire could be linked to restoration of electrical power in the area.

There were renewed calls from the community earlier this summer to rename the school, which was more than 100 years old.

However, unlike the recent vote by the County Commission to remove a Confederate monument, there was no imminent decision about to be made about the school's name.

The district says the displaced students will be housed at Lockhart Elementary, a school about a mile and a half away, The Tampa Bay Times reports.

Officials with the Hillsborough County School District say they will have more to say to the media later Wednesday.

District leaders, as part of an 18-month process, were designing a system to gather community input on whether the school's name should be changed. "The district is also coordinating with other schools, asking school staffs from across the district, to roll up their sleeves and help set up the new classroom space at Lockhart Elementary this Friday, September 15".

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