Fire destroys former Harnett County school

LILLINGTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- A huge fire broke out and destroyed an old school building in Harnett County Saturday night.

The fire consumed the roof of the former Boone Trail Elementary School on Old US 421 near Sanford around 9:30 p.m.

ABC11 spoke with alumni of the 91-year old school.

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"It's devastating to see it gone like this. It was such a beautiful, wonderful place," stated 64-year-old Janice Burtner. She says her aunt taught her mother at the historic school. Burtner attended Boone Trail in the 60s and 70s from first grade through twelfth grade.

"It's been here as long as I've been alive, which is a long time. It's just always been a part of the community, it was a gathering place. You come for the Halloween carnival, the basketball games," Burtner said.

In recent years, parts of the building have been used as a community center. Harnett County officials say the building is a total loss.

"The former Boone Trail High School was built in 1928 and was vacated in 2010 when the new Boone Trail Elementary School opened. In 2017, the County opened the Boone Trail Community Center & Library in the media center and gymnasium. The County was in the process of engaging Preservation NC to market the vacant portions of the property for redevelopment," county officials said.

The center was closed at the time of the fire and fire officials said no one was inside the building.

Multiple units responded to the scene of the fully-involved fire, which remained an active scene as Sunday morning approached.

According to ABC11 crews at the scene, Harnett County Fire Marshals Office, Harnett County Emergency Management, Harnett County EMS and Harnett County Sheriff's Office were also on the scene.

There was speculation by area residents that a lightning strike from the heavy storms that moved through the area may have started the fire, but no cause has officially been determined.

Harnett County officials are asking the public to stay away from the building. The community center and library are closed until further notice.

An investigation is underway.
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