Sad news today from Houlka, where their historic 1930s school, under renovation with a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, caught fire on Wednesday from a contractor’s spark (this is not an uncommon story–remember the Hinds County Armory?) and burned almost to the ground, at least that’s what these pictures from MDAH appear to indicate. According to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal:
Subcontractor Steve Fowlkes said he was capping gas lines for contractor Sonny Sullivan when the fire began. Fowlkes said he was soldering copper pipe in the attic and the fire kindled in insulation. He said he called for a fire extinguisher but the fire moved quickly and they evacuated the building.
The state fire marshal was expected to be in Houlka today to determine the fire’s official cause.
Houlka Fire Chief Terry Short said he was spending Wednesday night in a fire truck to secure the site and to douse hot-spots to keep the fire from rekindling.
The school building was just under 14,000 square feet. It was built in 1938 and had tall ceilings, pine wood floors and an asphalt shingle roof.
Short said the fire was in one room on the west side of the building when he arrived in Houlka’s fire truck. He said the truck ran out of water and the building was fully involved in the space of 10 minutes. The fire was reported to Chickasaw County 911 at 1:11 p.m. with most firefighters not leaving the scene until after 4 p.m.