UPDATE: Fire at W.Va. High School Ruled Arson

Courtesy: WVVA
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UPDATE 8/6/16
MCDOWELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A fire at a McDowell County school is now being ruled arson.

The fire at Big Creek High School happened on July 17.

Assistant State Fire Marshal Ryan McFarland says they found enough evidence to rule the fire as arson.

A $5000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in the case.

The old high school in War, West Virginia, had been scheduled for demolition before the fire.

Big Creek was the alma mater of author Homer Hickam Jr. and four friends who became national science fair champions in 1960.

The school was a source of inspiration for Hickam's book, "Rocket Boys: A Memoir," and the subsequent movie.



ORIGINAL STORY 7/17/15
McDOWELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- More than three dozen firefighters continue to battle a fire at a former school that gained national attention in the 1999 the movie "October Sky."

The fire at the old Big Creek High School on Route 16 in War was reported just after 5:30 Friday morning.

Firefighters from Berwind, Coalwood, War, and Welch are fighting the fire. Chief Matthew Dash with the War VFD says they are concerned with protecting Southside K-8, which is located behind the old school.

The school opened in 1932 and closed in 2010. It was scheduled for demolition later this summer, although the gymnasium was to be spared.

Big Creek was the alma mater of author Homer Hickam Jr. and four friends who became national science fair champions in 1960.

The school was a source of inspiration for Hickam's book, "Rocket Boys: A Memoir," and the subsequent movie.
Firefighters are expected to be on scene well into Friday evening.

The West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office has been contacted.

Meanwhile Homer Hickam released this statement on his official Facebook Page:

"I am so saddened by this probable arson that occurred the same week as the school was going to be torn down. Although there is never an excuse for arson, I think it reflects the level of frustration and demoralization that has occurred in the area. Reflecting on it, I think this could have all been handled so much better. Some recognition of the school was in order, similar to decommissioning a warship and attendant ceremonies, rather than simply bringing in the bulldozers as if it were just another building. The people of the county have suffered much during the past 40 + years and this is another painful episode. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to celebrate the life there in my books before the changes began and I have hope for a renaissance there in the future but, for now, this hurts." - Homer Hickam



 
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