Caution tape greeted St. Petersburg High School students back to class on Tuesday. The campus was closed on Friday after an early morning fire ripped through a portion of the school's auditorium.
The fire broke out around 3:45 a.m. on Friday. The blaze, which is believed to have started near the theater's projection room, ripped right through the roof.
"It's very smoky in there. There's no lighting because the lighting had to be cut to the area," St. Petersburg High School Principal Al Bennett explained on Tuesday.
As students returned to campus, so did insurance adjustors. They were brought in to survey everything from the sopping wet carpet to a hole in the auditorium's ceiling.
"The sound board, the electrical board in the auditorium, those are both ruined. The projection room is charred to its frame," Bennett said.
The official cause of the fire is still under investigation.
"They're speculating it could be a roofing contractor that was working on the flat roof on top of the auditorium," Bennett said.
Friday's flames were completely contained to the auditorium. Theater instructor Kiya Broughton credits great timing, and a lot of luck, for saving the school.
"At the end of last school year, they actually were putting in a better fire alarm system, an early alert system. That system was one reason that fire was so easily put out," Broughton said.
While theater students still don't know when their home-away-from-home will be restored, they say it's a show they'll never forget.
"I'll definitely always remember this. We had a hurricane day, but I definitely didn't think we'd have a fire day at any point," Drama student Breanna Broughton laughed.
SPHS Thespians want to put on their first performance of the fall in the auditorium in November. If repairs aren't complete by then, they are being offered stages by a number of community organizations and other schools.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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