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'School loss was preventable': Fire destroys school on northern Sask. First Nation

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Students in Waterhen Lake First Nation remain out of class on Wednesday following a devastating fire that destroyed the community’s school.

Around 1 p.m. Tuesday, Meadow Lake Fire Department and emergency responders answered the call for assistance with two fire trucks and six firefighters, the Meadow Lake City said.

The city said the fire resulted in the total loss of Waterhen Lake First Nation school, but all students and staff were safely evacuated from the building.

According to a Facebook post from the First Nation, the fire started on the roof of the industrial arts classroom.

“The school has been a long-standing building in the community and has many memories amongst our community members who attended. It’s a sad day for the community,” the Facebook post reads.

Waterhen Lake First Nation Chief Blaine Fiddler says the “devastating” loss of the school was preventable, and that the community saw the danger coming for over a decade now.

“In fact, this issue was highlighted numerous times across many leadership tables at all levels. We communicated that there was a pressing need for necessary upgrades and replacement in building materials to best meet contemporary safety standards,” Fiddler said in a statement.

Fiddler said Waterhen leadership past and present lobbied through multiple governments to advocate their need for a new school to no avail.

“It’s truly unbelievable that the school many of us were in yesterday congratulating all of our 2024 graduates is gone,” he said.

Waterhen Lake First Nation is located about 300 kilometres northwest of Prince Albert.

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