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VIDEO: Donations sought for arson-damaged elementary school in University Heights

SAN DIEGO -- A local elementary school will reopen on Wednesday, Jan. 18, after being closed Tuesday following an early morning fire that damaged the school's auditorium-cafeteria room and kitchen.

According to NBC San Diego, nearly $600,000 in fire damages has been reported from the fire at Alice Birney Elementary School in University Heights, which took place just before midnight.

Fire investigators say that a flammable liquid, which was still present when investigators entered the building, was used to start the fire.

The year-round school with about 500 students was scheduled to begin its winter quarter on Tuesday. District officials say that school staff spent the day, instead, ensuring that the campus was safe for students to return to classes. The school had been on vacation since Dec. 19.

"It should be close to a normal day for us," said Amanda Hammond-Williams, the school's principal. "We'll talk with our students about what happened, then it's back to work."

The full cost of repair is still being determined by the San Diego Unified School District. There was fire and smoke damage to the building, which is separate from other structures at the campus. Structural repairs, and replacement of fixtures and equipment will be funded by the district, however there were losses of materials for the school's drama and before- and after-school programs that are not expected to be covered.

Councilmember Todd Gloria said that he was devastated upon learning news of the arson at Birney Elementary. Gloria is urging community members to donate supplies to the school to help replace damaged and destroyed items.

"The school, its students, and its faculty and staff will come back even better than before," Gloria said. "The community can help make that happen by donating necessary items."

Hammond-Williams estimated that it will cost about $50,000 to replace all of the materials that were stored in the school's auditorium.

Donations can be made to the schools foundation, Friends of Alice Birney, online.

View more videos at: http://nbcsandiego.com.