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Good news following Willoughby-Eastlake BOE fire: Computerized records have been saved

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio-- Willoughby school officials said on Friday that computerized records have been saved, and a century-old building may be salvageable after suffering a devastating fire early Tuesday.

The building housed the school board's offices, and a staff of about forty people.
By Friday, the staff had been relocated to another building, and the district's computers were back up and running.

"I had a military career," says Superintendent Steve Thompson, "and I never saw an organization move better then the United States Marine Corps can move and deploy, until I saw this group of people."

The computer servers for the district were housed in the basement of the building that burned - which turned out to be a blessing.

"We were really surprised and happy to see the servers were in really good shape," says Patrick McKinney, the district's technology director.

"The first floor is a concrete deck, so we think that protected them somewhat," he added.

Drone view of damage to Willoughby-Eastlake Board of Education building following fire

The district showed drone video on Friday at a news conference that revealed the extensive damage the fire did to the building. But it also offered some encouraging signs for the future.

"That night (of the fire), when you looked at the building, it just seemed overwhelming," Thompson says, "but as you can see from the (drone) fly-through, much of the exterior of the building is still in tact."

Thompson says insurance adjusters will have a big say, but the building may be salvageable.

In addition, the drone video showed that some personnel records kept on paper in file cabinets may have also survived.

Fire Chief Todd Ungar says investigators have determined the blaze started accidentally - perhaps in a first-floor office.

He said they can't pinpoint an exact cause because of the extent of the damage.

Read more on the fire.