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280 students displaced by fire in Colonial Beach

Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:00 am

Public discussion of where to move the 280 students of Colonial Beach Elementary School began just hours after a fire ravaged what is known as the old Colonial Beach High School. The building was most recently used as an elementary school. In the early morning hours of Sunday, Jan. 5, the old brick building that faces Washington Ave. caught fire.

Colonial Beach school was engulfed in flames on the morning of Jan. 5.

Colonial Beach school was engulfed in flames on the morning of Jan. 5.

The building was damaged beyond repair by the fire. As of Sunday afternoon, the State Fire Marshall and Virginia State Fire Investigation team were working to find the cause of the blaze. School Board Chairman Tim Trivett said that any time a vacant building catches fire the first thought is arson, but that it had not been determined at this time whether that was the case.

The roof was destroyed, with much of the interior also devastated. As of the afternoon of Jan. 5, the exterior brick walls were standing, but were declared unstable and a collapse risk by town building inspector Dexter Monroe. State Fire Marshall officials also agreed with Monroe’s assessment.

Elementary school buildings surround the building. The small brick building hosts the younger children, while the older elementary students are in modular units around the campus. The gym, which has been called the “Cracker Box” for numerous years due to its diminutive size, was also heavily damaged by water and smoke.

The gym was the only portion of the building allowed to hold students since 2011 when the building was damaged by the earthquake, Tropical Storm Lee, and