Fire Destroys Historic Biloxi School

An early morning fire Tuesday destroyed the old Howard Two Elementary school in Biloxi.

The school, where generations of Biloxi children attended class, has been vacant for the past year.

Intense flames and billowy smoke greeted the first firefighters. Although a layer of brick covered the outer building, there was much wood beneath to fuel the fire.

"Pretty intense fire. I mean, you could feel it all the way across the street," said witness Carl Short.

The huge plume of smoke could be seen for several miles.

"The flames were probably, they were over the trees. Thirty to forty feet above the roof. The first fire trucks started showing up and then they got it beat down pretty quick," said Short.

More than three dozen firefighters from four stations helped battle the stubborn blaze. The first units came from the Curt Jacko Fire Station, just half a block away.

"Pulled to the front and they suspected it started in the front because it was totally involved on three floors in the front. And the roof was collapsed already in the front. But it looks like it started in the rear of the building. But it tells me the fire had been burning for quite a while before we got a call," said Biloxi Fire Chief, David Roberts.

Firefighters sprayed up to six thousand gallons of water a minute. Still, the flames inside continued to consume the mostly wooden structure.

Although vacant the past year or so, Howard Two means memories for many Biloxians. The Kovacevich children lived next door to the elementary school.

Mike Kovacevich attended school there, along with his eight brothers and sisters.

"We had a lot of football games and baseball games in the school yard. This is where the whole neighborhood, the whole point hung out at Howard Two school. So, it's sad to see it go," he said, while watching the firefighters snuff out the blaze.

Several generations share that sadness as Howard Two, which has stood since the 1920s, is destroyed by fire.