Amid controversy surrounding name, Robert E. Lee Elementary School burns down in Tampa


FLORIDA — Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Tampa Bay was severely damaged by a fire Tuesday night, amid the national controversy surrounding the survival of Confederate namesakes.

According to the Daily Mail, Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Jason Perry said the fire erupted around 7 p.m. Tuesday night, prompting firefighters to rush to the scene.

Authorities do not believe the fire to be suspicious at this time but are still investigating its initial cause.

CBS has reported that, fortunately, there was no one in the school at the time the inferno broke out.

The fire caused the roof of the small school to cave in, resulting in the temporary displacement of 300 students and 50 staff members.

One reason police may have thought the fire suspicious is that it comes amid a heated debate over the school’s name. Parents and other onlookers have made a push–in light of recent developments in the national conversation surrounding race–to change the name on the school from Confederate General Robert E. Lee to African-American historian Carter G. Wilson, News Channel 8 reports.

In August, Tulsa World published an online poll to their website, asking individuals whether they believe the name should be changed or not.

It currently stands at 4,725 people saying the name should change and 4,524 people saying it should remain the same.

No other information has been released regarding the board members’ decision. The meeting was held at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, just four hours before the fire erupted.

See pictures and videos of the carnage and flames below:

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