A fire consumed the old Camp Hill School on High School Avenue on Friday afternoon and caused one victim to die.
Fire departments from around the area responded to the blaze of the former school built in 1929.
“We heard what sounded like an explosion while out serving warrants a few blocks away,” Camp Hill police chief Danny Williams said. “We saw smoke within a couple minutes as we were responding to investigate.”
Williams said one person was injured in the blaze, airlifted to UAB Burn Center and succumbed to their injuries after several hours Friday.
The victim's name has not been released.
Camp Hill fire chief David Berry said he got the call about 12:15 p.m. shortly after Williams called in the blaze. Berry said it is still too early to speculate as to its cause.
“We will be here a while,” Berry said Friday afternoon as smoke still billowed from the remaining brick walls.
The building’s construction materials made the blaze hard to battle. The building was made of heart pine that is often used as a fire starter. It burns easily and once started is difficult to put out.
The old ag and home economics buildings were not damaged in Friday’s blaze.
Trucks and firefighters from the Camp Hill, Dadeville, Union and Jacksons Gap fire departments assisted in keeping the blaze contained. The Dadeville Fire Department brought its ladder truck to put water on the blaze from about 50 feet in the air. Tallapoosa EMS transported the injured person to a field at Lyman Ward Military Academy. Tallapoosa EMA and the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office also responded.
Camp Hill Mayor Ezell Smith remembers the school when it was still used as a school.
“I graduated from Edward Bell in 1967,” Smith said. “Those one year behind me graduated from here after integration in 1968.”
The Tallapoosa County Board of Education owned the building until the early 1980s before giving it to the Town of Camp Hill. Tax maps show the property is currently owned by Zero Keen. Smith and Williams said efforts were being made to restore the building.
“They were working on it,” Williams said. “They were also living in it some too.”
Smith added, “They were trying to fix it up.”