Huge school fire under investigation in Colonial Beach

Published: Jan. 5, 2014 at 3:01 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 15, 2014 at 11:21 PM EST
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Source: Lexington Joshua Morgan
Source: Lexington Joshua Morgan

COLONIAL BEACH, VA (WWBT) - In less than an hour, a 100-year-old Colonial Beach High School building was reduced to rubble and ashes.

The school caught fire Sunday morning shocking many in the surrounding community.

"It woke me up out of bed this morning I threw some clothes on and came running out across the yard here and that's pretty much what I got to see flames flying up in the air," said alumnus Dan Atkins, who lives next to the school and smelled the smoke.

Dan recorded video of the fire with flames stretching several feet into the air, the entire building engulfed. Crews had to be called in from nearby counties, even some in Maryland.

"My father graduated in the gym right over there that is where he graduated high school. Countless basketball games and school events things like that have happened at that school. I got my education there," Atkins said.

Dan's young son now goes to the neighboring elementary and won't have a chance at the same experience. Though the building that houses the elementary school was not impacted, inspectors say it is still a hazard for children.

Hazmat crews were on scene because of potentially dangerous chemicals that were stored inside the building. At one point, the fire became so severe crews had to be pulled back.

"Once we pulled back out we noticed there was heavy black smoke issuing from that roof. We have to pull everybody out of the building at that point because of the fire conditions and go defensive with the ladder trucks that were on scene," Captain Dana Reed with Colonial Beach fire department said.

School officials said Sunday children at Colonial Beach Elementary will not have classes on the campus this week. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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