RICKREALL, Ore. (KOIN) — A charter school west of Salem erupted in flames in the middle of the school day Thursday.
Dozens of children were forced to evacuate. As of Thursday night, the school is just rubble.
“A lot of memories, family reunions here,” one person told KOIN 6 News. “[We've] done everything here.”
The two-alarm fire destroyed the newly renovated Eola Hills Charter School in Polk County.
Fire crews have spent more than 10 hours at the scene after the fire erupted around 1 p.m. Thursday. As of 10 p.m., smoke continues to billow from the charred remains.
"I think we’re all without words,” said a witness. “It’s very devastating.”
A 1 p .m. flames erupt in the back of the school. Within minutes fire engulfed the entire building.
The first concern, said Amity Fire Chief Bruce Hubbard, was accounting for all the students. Once all the children and teachers made it out safely, fire crews focused on the old building, which had just been renovated over the summer.
“This building was 100 years old,” Hubbard said. “Very dry timber.” And that meant the perfect fuel for a fast-moving fire.
This is a small school, with just 43 students when full. Thirty-six students were in attendance Thursday. No one was hurt.
Fire investigators are expected at the scene Friday morning, to try to figure out a cause. School leaders are working on a plan for where to meet for school next week.
A $4.5 million federal grant will allow them to keep their salaries and benefits through 2015.
A LifeFlight helicopter crew was unable to respond to this single-vehicle crash on NE Lucia Falls Road Thursday night, citing the weather.
The Oregon Zoo is asking for the public's help to name its new baby river otter.
The freezing rain in the Portland-Vancouver metro area is over, and temperatures should slowly climb to around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.