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Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

   20140901MetroCastweb

Colonial Beach Elementary School burns in early morning fire

Sunday Jan. 5, 2014

“A piece of Colonial Beach History gone; such a sad day” - Just two of the comments on Facebook from residents of Colonial Beach who woke up, Sunday Jan. 5 to news that the landmark 100-year-old brick building known to many long-time residents as the old high school at the elementary school campus had burned beyond repair by roughly 5 a.m.

Chief David Robey of the Colonial Beach Vol. Fire Department said the fire was toned out around 4 a.m. Robey said they could see the flames from the fire house which is located about a block away.

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When firefighters arrived on scene the school building was fully engulfed in flames. The State Fire Marshal, investigating the fire stated that the bulk of the fire was on the front side of the building which is located on the river side and burned towards the back of the building which sits roughly 50 yards from Douglas Ave.

The fire spread up through the center stairwell and was coming out the back entrance of the school on the Douglas Ave side. The fire had also spread up into the attic.

Robey said they had some issues with water supply; the hydrants could not keep up with amount of water the crews needed to flow.

Robey said they had the bulk of the fire under control within 10 minutes of arriving on scene but the water issues made fighting the fire in the roof difficult and dangerous. The crews pulled out and within roughly 15 minutes the roof collapsed.

 At around 10 a.m. the crews were waiting for HazMat to remove old chemicals left in the science lab.

Attached to the original building are two additions, which house bathrooms and the gymnasium. Robey said the fire did not reach the gym, but there is smoke and water damage in the gym.  

Chief Robey stated that the building was so damaged it is very probable that the building will need to be torn down even before it will be safe enough for students to return to the campus. Robey said that determination will be made after all investigations are complete.

For now school has been canceled for Monday Jan. 6. The school board is expected to hold a special meeting soon to determine how to proceed after more information has been gathered.

Linda Farneth

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