04/12/11 — Early fire destroys Belfast building

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Early fire destroys Belfast building

By Gary Popp
Published in News on April 12, 2011 1:46 PM

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A fire of unknown origin gutted the gymnasium at the old Belfast School campus on U.S. 117 North Alternate early today.

Fire destroyed the old Belfast school gymnasium on U.S. 117 North early this morning.

The gym has not been occupied since 2009, when it served as Belfast Academy. The Wayne County Public School system had been using it for storage. The school building next to it was not damaged. It is currently being used by WAGES.

Belfast Volunteer Fire Department received the emergency call at 11:53 Monday night. Deputy Chief Larry Pierce said the gym contained "primarily furnishings, cleaning supplies, various things."

The firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to the adjacent buildings but were unable to save a significant portion of the gym.

"Windows had started collapsing when we got there, so we it was already self-venting," Pierce said. "Based on the age of the building it, is probably a total loss, but I can't say for sure."

The cause of the fire is under investigation, he said.

Pierce added that the fire started in the interior of the gym, but the pending investigation prevented him from saying any more regarding how it might have begun.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office also is involved in the investigation. Maj. Tom Effler said the amount of damage is still being determined.

"It is being investigated as a suspicious fire, but the investigation has not been completed," Effler said this morning.

The responding fire departments included volunteer crews from Belfast, Patetown and Pikeville, who cleared the scene at about 4:30 a.m.

"They did an excellent job of stopping the fire, so it did not spread to nearby buildings," Pierce said.