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On Sunday March 1, just before noon, contractors working at South Bay Union School District’s VIP Village preschool discovered a fire in a classroom and immediately called 911.

"We lost materials and mementos," said school director David Sheppard, "but Imperial Beach residents are extremely fortunate to have some of the greatest firefighters around. They limited damage to just one classroom, came back to check on the structure throughout the day and then came back the following Tuesday to talk to the students about fire safety....

"[T]he Imperial Beach Optimist Club...wrote checks to the two teachers -- Daniela Varela and Mark Sotomayor -- to help offset some of their personal losses, Vons on Saturn Boulevard donated stuffed animals so the students would have something new to hold as they discussed the fire. Nestor and Oneonta Elementary Schools and the National City School District, for their offers of assistance, to them I'd like to say thank you."

The preschool, geared primarily toward low-income, "high-risk" children, includes classrooms for children with special needs.

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