Staff and Wire Reports
Officers tell us an 11-year-old boy admitted to setting trash on fire inside the building and then leaving.
Damage incurred $2.5 million, as the former school building burned to the ground.
CHICKASHA, Okla. -- A fire destroyed an abandoned school and covered most of Chickasha with black smoke on Sunday afternoon.
Firefighters responded about 2 p.m. Sunday to a blaze at the vacant Chickasha Intermediate School building and found flames shooting from the building's roof. No injuries were reported.
As the building burned, whipping winds caused nearby residents like Mike Kyees to scramble to save valuables from their homes while others wetted their lawns and roofs with garden hoses and wet T-shirts to lessen the threat posed by falling embers.
"We're saving clothes, pictures, other things; stuff of my grandson's," said Kyees as he carried a laundry basket full of items from his son's house that sits just east of the school.
The grass was burned around one home.
The blaze completely destroyed the two-story school building and gymnasium. However, the incident will not hurt the school district because the building had sat empty for about the past four years, said Chickasha Schools Superintendent Jim Glaze.
Residents like Jim Tibbetts said they were surprised by the size of the fire.
"It looked like to me it started at the center of the building, by the end of the fire it looked like it'd gone both ways into the wind and with the wind," Tibbetts said.
Tibbetts attended the school in the 1920s.
His son, Adam Tibbetts, also attended the old intermediate school.
"A lot of my family came to school here so it's kinda sad to see," he said. "I just couldn't believe it, it's a pretty big building. It covers the whole city block and it was completely engulfed in flames when we pulled up."