L.C. Bird HS set to reopen Monday after van, fire damage

L.C. Bird HS set to reopen Monday after van, fire damage

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - L.C. Bird High School in Chesterfield, closed since Thursday after a stolen van crashed into the school and started a fire, will reopen on Monday.

Chesterfield County Schools confirmed on Facebook Sunday night that the school will reopen for classes on Monday.

The school was closed last Thursday after a van crashed into it, causing a fire. Thursday afternoon, Chesterfield police confirmed the van that crashed into the school was stolen. The school remained closed Friday.

Last Thursday afternoon, Bird principal Laura Herbert e-mailed parents with an update on the situation at the school. "Our support services team has worked diligently throughout the day to clean our school," she wrote. "Repairs are being made to our front entrance, water has been removed, carpets are being replaced and the smoke odor has started to dissipate. Classes again will be canceled for students on Friday. Our building will remain closed for activities through Sunday night. We are hopeful that we will be able to reopen on Monday."

Pictures from Chesterfield Police show the damage inside, both from the fire, and the effort to put it out. Water was removed, and Herbert said Thursday the smell of smoke had started to dissipate, but not enough to hold classes last Friday..

While the school's focus is on getting repairs made, the focus for police is figuring out who did this and why.

Flashing lights, closed roads, emergency vehicles, and at the center of it all- a van into the front of Lloyd C. Bird High School.

In the light of day, crews access the damage and neighbors weigh in.

"I've never heard of anything like that," said nearby resident Jon McPeters.

It started Thursday morning just before 1:30 when Chesterfield Fire and EMS got a call from the alarm company.

"When we arrived on scene, we had a van inside the front main entrance of the L.C. Bird high school that was actively on fire," Chesterfield County Fire and EMS Lt. Jason Elmore said.

The driver of the van was no where to be found, but Elmore said that person intentionally drove into the school.

The vehicle's wheels continued spinning after the crash and investigators says the rear, right tire sparked the blaze.

"Our crews were able to get the fire extinguished quickly, but it did produce a lot of heavy smoke and put smoke throughout the school," says Elmore.

It's that smoke and water from overhead sprinklers which forced county leaders to close school.

"I was confused at the time, I wasn't sure why I was getting a call from Lloyd C. Bird at 5:00 in the morning," said Bird parent Leona Martin.

The Martins' 15-year-old daughter is a student at the school, and Leona Martin went there herself.

She described the area where the van entered as a breeze-way which leads to the office and another set of doors which go inside to where classrooms are located.

Said Martin, "The part that they hit is not something that is a part of the school, it's not a permanent structure -so they can tear it down and rebuild it."

Fire investigators described the vehicle as a white, 15-passenger Econovan.

If you have any information on suspect or the incident, call Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.

Copyright 2015 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.