Cause of deadly blaze at abandoned school sought

State opens investigation into deadly blaze at abandoned school

CAMP HILL, Ala. (WSFA) - State investigators have arrived on the scene of a vacant school fire in Camp Hill that claimed one life on Friday and now have the arduous task of determining what started the blaze.

The remains of the old Camp Hill High School in Tallapoosa County sit behind yellow police tape. The cause of the deadly fire remains under investigation.
The remains of the old Camp Hill High School in Tallapoosa County sit behind yellow police tape. The cause of the deadly fire remains under investigation. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

The old Camp Hill High School, built in 1929, burned to the ground Friday afternoon, claiming one life in the process. At this point, investigators say they don’t know what sparked the fire.

The victim’s identity will not be released at the request of family, according to state investigators. There’s no word on why he was on the property in the first place.

A fire at the old Camp Hill High School Friday claimed the life of one person.
A fire at the old Camp Hill High School Friday claimed the life of one person. (Source: Dadeville Fire Department)

“He was located behind the building, outside the building. So he had made it outside,” said Dadeville and Stillwaters Fire Chief Anthony Keith Wilkerson.

The most difficult part of fighting the fire, according to Wilkerson, was just getting to it. The building was surrounded by vegetation and old power lines in front of the building kept trucks from getting closer. “We pumped for over two hours, emptying one of the water tanks in Camp Hill," Wilkerson said.

In all, it took 30 firefighters representing five different departments from the area to battle the fire.

Memories of what many say was once a wonderful school went up with the flames and smoke.

“Another piece of Camp Hill history that’s gone," said Camp Hill Fire Chief David Berry. “The school served here as a starting point for a lot of doctors, dentists and lawyers. I worked here with the Head Start program.”

On Tuesday, state fire investigators plan to put a drone in the air over the burned out building to get a different perspective on the property. For now, the cause remains “undetermined.”

In 2018 the state recorded 75 fire fatalities, according to the state fire marshal’s office. For 2019, the unofficial tally currently stands at 34.

Copyright 2019 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.