MPS preparing temporary location for Booker T. Washington school after fire

The fire happened early Saturday morning (Source: MPS)
The fire happened early Saturday morning (Source: MPS)
Published: Aug. 18, 2018 at 11:59 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 18, 2018 at 6:03 PM CDT
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The building is considered a total loss (Source: MPS)
The building is considered a total loss (Source: MPS)
MPS Staff arrive to prepare Hayneville Road School for BTW students displaced by Saturday’s...
MPS Staff arrive to prepare Hayneville Road School for BTW students displaced by Saturday’s fire. (Source: MPS)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - An early morning fire has destroyed part of Booker T. Washington Magnet School's campus, Montgomery Public School officials confirmed.

According to Senior Communications Officer Tom Salter, the fire destroyed building C which housed the school's cafeteria, counselor's offices, the photo studio and a number of classrooms.

Salter provided an update just before noon saying that fire crews were still spraying water on Building C.

Fire officials say the building is a total loss. Fire investigators are not sure at this time what caused the fire but will begin assessing the damage once the area is deemed safe to inspect.

Salter said MPS Operations staff were able to get into the cafeteria section of the school next to Building C and found that equipment still looks to be in good condition. This equipment will be transferred to Hayneville Road.

BTW Principal Quesha Starks expressed her thanks to Montgomery first responders:

"Our firefighters and police officers were quick to respond and they put their lives at risk to try to save this historic building," said Starks. "We are so grateful for their skill and their hard work. They kept the fire from spreading to the neighborhoods and other historic buildings around the school."

Salter says classes for the school's 411 students have been canceled for the coming week while MPS operations staff work to get the now-closed Hayneville Road School ready to receive BTW students.

"Classes will resume Monday, Aug. 27 at the Hayneville Road facility," Salter added. "BTW faculty and staff should report to the main building this Monday morning at their regular time to assist in getting items ready to be transferred,"

Salter says transportation and "other logistic" plans have already been put in place and will be communicated to parents as they near the opening of the temporary home for the school.

A webpage has been set up to help keep parents and the community informed about the fire and aftermath. From the link, choose "For Parents" then "BTW Fire Information Page" to view the information.

Salter said school systems from around the state are already offering up support.

"School systems as far away as Tuscaloosa and Florence have already offered to supply desks and other items. Individuals, MPS employees and citizens are reaching out looking for ways to help. BTW alumni and area churches are also calling with offers of assistance. Former BTW Principal and current Alabama State University President Quintin Ross has offered the university's support. Mayor Todd Strange has offered to assist. Media outlets have also expressed interest in helping with community efforts to replace items lost in the fire," said Salter.

Alabama State President Quinton Ross was an assistant principal at BTW from 1998-2000 and was the principal from 2000-2003, and released the following statement:

"I am saddened about the fire that overtook the building that I'd always known as Building C while serving as principal of BTW. However, I am thankful to God that no students, faculty or staff were harmed in the incident.

I have spoken with the principal, Dr. Starks and with superintendent Dr. Moore to offer ASU's assistance.

The Hornet Nation stands ready to help as they deal with this difficult situation."

MPS Superintendent Ann Roy Moore is grateful for the support from the community:

"I am not surprised by the offers of assistance by the citizens of our great community," said Moore. "While I have only called Montgomery home for a short time, I know that people in our area care about children and education. We need that support as we continue to support BTW during this time and for all our schools as we continue to move forward."

Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean offered this statement:

"The Montgomery County Commission is heartbroken about the fire at BTW. We are grateful school was not in session and no students, faculty or first responders were injured in the blaze. I spoke to Dr. Roller this morning and expressed to him my fellow Commissioners and I stand ready to help however we are needed. We are praying for BTW and the entire Montgomery Public Schools community."

Salter says once school staff has had an opportunity to take inventory, more specific information will be available on what items are needed.

The BTW Fame Board, a parent, alumni and community group, has a Go Fund Me account set up here. There will be a Monday item collection drop off at the AlaPTA office on the corner of Union and High streets from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. next week.

You can contact Executive Sec FAME Board State Reflections Alabama PTA Chair Paula Lyman at 334-354-0937.

Area Lowes stores are also joining in on the efforts to help MPS in the aftermath of this morning's fire.

As a result of the fire, the Montgomery Police Department has closed the following roads:

  • Union Street from Genetta to High
  • South Street and Arba Street from the exit to Decatur
  • Grove Street from Jackson to Decatur

Motorists are asked to avoid the area and take an alternate route.

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