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Robert E. Lee Elementary School destroyed by fire in Tampa - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Robert E. Lee Elementary School destroyed by fire in Tampa

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Flames consume Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Tampa on September 12, 2017  WTSP-TV Flames consume Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Tampa on September 12, 2017 WTSP-TV

TAMPA, Fla. - A Tampa Heights magnet elementary school at the center of community controversy because it bears the name of Confederate General Robert E. Lee caught fire Tuesday evening, reports CBS Tampa affiliate WTSP-TV.

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.

Part of the roof collapsed. No one was inside at the time. The school wasn't being used as a shelter for Hurricane Irma evacuees. No injuries were reported.

Nearly 329 students and 49 staff members will be displaced, and local officials were working on finding somewhere else for them to go beginning Monday.

The cause of the flames is under investigation, but fire officials told WTSP it doesn't appear to be suspicious.

Residents say the area got power back post-Irma about three hours before the fire was reported, and WTSP says the early thinking is the fire may have been sparked by something power-related.

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

City archives show the school was named the Michigan Avenue Grammar School when it opened in 1906, but was renamed after Lee around 1917.

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