RICKREALL, Ore. -- Investigators are trying to figure out what started a fire at an historic school in rural Polk County.
Flames destroyed the century-old Eola Hills Charter School building in Rickreall west of Salem on Thursday.
The alarm sounded around 1 p.m. when Marty Mayfield was in history class. The flames sent students and staff running for safety.
“It was just covered in smoke everywhere, flying everywhere,” Mayfield said. “You could smell it from all the past the road.”
Assistant Principal Chase Emerson wasted no time getting students out of the building.
“I didn’t see any flames, just smoke,” Emerson said. “But I heard fire happening, the crackling of wood.”
The building is made of wood. That fact, coupled with a lack of water, made fighting the fire difficult. While flames destroyed the school, none of the more than 50 students and staffs were hurt.
After the fire Mayfield sat on the back of his pickup truck and watched firefighters tear down what was left of his school.
“I never thought something like this would happen,” Mayfield said. “It’s really a big disappointment.”
“I’m glad everyone was safe. We’re going to stay strong and find a way to get through this.”
The school board will hold an emergency meeting Friday to plan its next move.