McLane Middle School in Brandon was struck by lightning last month, causing a fire that destroyed the school's seventh grade building.

One of Brandon’s oldest schools suffered a fire last month that left seven teachers scrambling in the weeks before the start of the academic year. McLane Middle School was struck by lightning in July, causing the seventh grade building, which held seven classrooms, to be condemned.

According to Eric Seidel, Public Information Officer with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue (HCFR), the lightning struck the center building, causing a two-alarm fire.

“Firefighters arrived to find flames shooting through the roof of the two-story classroom building in the middle of the school,” said Seidel. “It took crews around 30 minutes to get the flames under control, using both aerial and ground attacks; however, hotspots continued to arise, which required use of both water and foam to extinguish.”

HCFR crews prevented the flames from spreading to any other surrounding buildings and there were no injuries.

However, teachers and administrators had their work cut out for them moving the seven affected classrooms and rounding up supplies to replace items destroyed in the fire before welcoming back students.

“It is heartbreaking, but we are Viking strong,” said Principal Dina Langston.

Community members, parents and teachers from other local schools have come together to help McLane teachers prepare for the school year.

“We are extremely grateful to everyone who has reached out, offering to help with school supplies and offering to set up classrooms,” said Langston. “We are rallying together. Our theme this year is ‘Striving for Greatness,’ and we will have a wonderful year thanks to all of the community support.”

According to Hillsborough County Public School’s Media Outreach, Tanya Arja, a decision has not been made as to what to do with the condemned building.

“Our focus since the fire has been making sure McLane Middle is ready for students on the first day,” said Arja. “We’ll now work with the insurance company to assess cost and determine the next steps.”

McLane Middle School is located at 306 N. Knights Ave. in Brandon and can be reached at 744-8100.

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Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.