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Trinity Lutheran spends millions to renovate school after April fire; welcomes students back Tuesday


After suffering millions in damage from a fire in April, Trinity Lutheran Church and School welcomed students back to class Tuesday.

In the middle of the night on April 15, Jefferson City and Cole County Fire responded to Trinity Lutheran on Stadium Boulevard for a fire. The building was engulfed and sustained smoke damage throughout.

The Missouri Department of Public Safety originally estimated building had around $100,000 in damage, but after renovations, the school realized the damage was more than $2 million. The school was able to pay for the renovations with a safety net it had built up and generous donations from the community.

Renovations are ongoing, the Kindergarten classroom where the fire started is still being renovated. But, Trinity Lutheran Senior Pastor Sam Powell is happy to welcome students back, even if it is a few weeks after they'd usually start school.

"This morning, we got to see kids, and all of them together," Powell said. "Last year we finished the year with kids a couple of grades at one building, most of the other grades at another. And we wanted to be together. And so there were a lot of smiling faces."

Missouri Fire Marshal J. Tim Bean said the fire damage could have been worse if not for the safety measures the school had in place, such as working smoke detectors and working breaker boxes.

"What i appreciated was the systems in place," Bean said. "Those elements being in place in that facility,  really constitutes the importance of, you know, working smoke alarms."

No one was hurt in the April fire, and Powell credits the church and school's ability to bounce back to the strong community of Trinity Lutheran.

"Sometimes you say a building is just a building, but it is great to be in our building because it's the spot where we gather together," Powell said.

An investigation found that the fire was accidental and started in a classroom near a dehumidifier. The investigator was unable to eliminate that as a possible cause, according to a Missouri Department of Public Safety spokesman.

Trinity Lutheran has been posting updates on its website since the fire. The latest update was Aug. 24.

"Once we pass the first inspection, teachers and staff can enter the building, but not students. The second inspection can be done once all the classrooms are set up and the building is ready for school. They will be looking for extension cords and other fire hazards and free egress in halls," the update reads.

Article Topic Follows: Jefferson City

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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