Investigators Search Burned Out School - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/07/05

Investigators Search Burned Out School

The burned out Howard Two school in Biloxi is still smoldering. But that didn't stop fire investigators from trying to determine what caused Tuesday's blaze.

There's much interest in both the fire and what remains of the historic structure.

The team of fire inspectors faces a simple, yet difficult assignment.

"Dig through the fire debris and try and find out what caused the fire," said fire inspector, Wayne Herrin.

There is much rubble to sort through. Investigators must find clues which may be hidden beneath layers of the collapsed roof and upper floors.

"A fire behaves in a certain way. It leaves what are called "fire patterns" that will point the direction of a fire and where a fire may have started," said Herrin.

Specially trained dogs have a separate assignment. The animals searched the scene for possible victims of the blaze.

"I went to this school when it was a wooden school," said Jim Williams, as he surveyed the fire scene.

Williams and wife Elda stopped by to ask for a keepsake brick.

"I was completely devastated and sad. Because that was our old alma mater you know. And I knew that I had gone to school here, Jim had gone to school here and our children had gone to school here," she said.

The Biloxi school district is well aware of the interest in preserving pieces of history. Not only has the district received several requests for bricks, there's also been some talk of trying to preserve the historic front facade of the building.

"If things work out, there may be some historical objects or things that we might be able to save," said school superintendent, Dr. Paul Tisdale.

Before salvaging bricks, the district will deal with tearing down the remaining walls. That won't happen until fire investigators wrap up.

By Steve Phillips

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