05/11/06 — No firm leads yet in Eureka fire

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No firm leads yet in Eureka fire

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on May 11, 2006 1:54 PM

An investigation of Tuesday's fire that destroyed the old Eureka School has not determined if the blaze was accidental or arson, Sheriff Carey Winders said today.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office, the State Bureau of Investigation and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is conducting the inquiry. Winders said several leads are being pursued.

Damage was estimated at more than $100,000.

The school was closed in 1991, and the 82-year-old building had been used since 2001 by the Heart of David Ministries Church.

More than 100 volunteer firefighters from more than 12 departments in Wayne, Wilson and Greene counties responded.

Eureka Fire Chief Mike Brock said the fire started on the first floor. The interior was destroyed, and half of the roof collapsed.

Several departments stayed overnight at the site to prevent the fire from rekindling.

The last high school class graduated in 1961. From then until Northeast Elementary School was opened, it was used as an elementary school.

Wayne County Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor attended Eureka School as a child. He recalls playing Little League on the adjacent ballfield and having homecomings in the school cafeteria because his church didn't have a fellowship hall.

"Even though it had been closed for years, you could still ride by and think about all the people that passed through those halls," Taylor said. "I think for all the people in that community or the people that graduated from that school, certainly it's a sad moment. It's sort of like a monument that's been torn down."