It took a passing motorist to report a fire that contractors were apparently trying to put out themselves at Stephen J. Gerace School Monday. Fire officials said workers replacing the roof of the school had not reported the blaze by the time police received the call from the passerby. In addition, because construction was taking place at the school, the fire alarm system—with permission of fire officials—had been disarmed because of the number of false alarms that would have been tripped.
While fire damage was contained largely to the attic, significant disrepair was reported in at least one second-floor music-instruction classroom due to water and a collapsed ceiling. A classroom used for special instruction on the first floor directly under the music room also sustained damage, school officials said.