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Portland bookstore helping Frenchville elementary school replenish book supply after devastating fire

On July 25, a fire left the school a total loss, including the school's library of more than 8,000 books.

PORTLAND, Maine — After fire destroyed a northern Maine community's elementary school, a bookstore in southern Maine is trying to help.

Dr. Levesque Elementary School in Frenchville was a small school along the northern Canadian border that served both Frenchville and Saint Agatha. On July 25, a fire left the school a total loss, including the school's library of more than 8,000 books.

An author with ties to the Frenchville community recently reached out to local bookstores to see if they could help, and Print Bookstore in Portland said, "Yes."

The bookstore's community coordinator, Stephanie Heinz, talked to the school's librarian and then set up a wish list on their website.

"They lost everything, like 8,000-plus books, and we had done programs before where we work a lot with schools and I just wanted to see what we could to do help," Print Bookstore community coordinator Stephanie Heinz told NEWS CENTER Maine.

People who wish to donate can see which books are still needed by clicking HERE.

The school district's short-term solution for the displaced classrooms includes occupying a kid-friendly room at the St. John Valley Technology Center and using an empty wing of the Middle/High school in St. Agatha.

On the day of the fire, NEWS CENTER Maine spoke with Patience Bernier, who lives across the street from the school. 

"We kind of just stood there, all the neighbors and kids in shock, because a bunch of us live right there and have little children that are going to the school," Bernier said. "We all love that little school and the community is really close, it's just heartbreaking, we don't know what we are going to do."

Superintendent Benjamin Sirois said the Maine Department of Education will support the school all along the way, and will also assist with long-term plans. Right now, school officials are focusing on the insurance portion.

"It's a lot of moving parts. It involves field-adjusters, desk-adjusters, cause, and origin people, and so there is a lot of things going on. Today I met with a cause and origin representative to try and get an idea of what the loss was and possible causes, the school is a total loss," Sirois told NEWS CENTER Maine on July 29.

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