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Circleville School Burns!

(Richfield Reaper, 30 March 1967)

Circleville School Leveled in Wednesday Morning Fire

Scores of Fires Break Out in Path of Wind

CIRCLEVILLE &endash; A wind-whipped fire swept through the Circleville Elementary School early Wednesday, completely gutting the structure and leaving only the stone walls standing.

The fire was discovered about 3:45 a.m. by Mrs. Elmer Fox, who lives across the street east of the structure. Mrs. Fox told firemen she was awakened by the light of the flames reflecting on the walls of her bedroom.

Two Departments Called

She immediately called the Circleville Fire Dept., and moments later the Junction Fire Dept. was also called.

Donald Whittaker, Piute School District superintendent, said cause of the fire has not been determined but apparently began in the southwest corner of the structure and was quickly swept through the building by a strong wind coming from that direction.

The fire had spread through the entire school in less than 15 minutes and firemen spent most of their efforts in attempting to contain scores of small spot fires which broke out in a path up to five blocks away as burning shingles, books and other parts of the blazing building were carried by the wind.

All the school's records were destroyed 

Home Endangered

The home and yards of Carl Whittaker, a half block north of the school was in the greatest danger, and firemen put out fire after fire on the yards, fences and near the family home.

Ken's Service, a general store on Main Street (U.S. Highway 89) started ablaze on the roof from a flying blazing board, but was quickly extinguished with only minor damage.

The Circleville Ward LDS Church, located a half block to the south of the burning school, was out of the path of the flames and was not damaged.

Supt. Whittaker was not able to provide an estimated loss figure, but said it will take at least $400,000 to replace the structure.

Plans Considered

He stated the plans have been considered for many years for construction of a new building in Circleville, and school officials will press for early action in calling for a bond election to provide the needed money to get work underway.

He stated the building was covered by insurance, but declined to indicate the amount.

In the meantime, students in kindergarten, fourth, fifth and sixth grades had no respite from classes as kindergarten youngsters were transported to Junction and temporary makeshift quarters were set up in the Circleville City Building for the other students.

Attend Junior School

Some 50 students form the southern end of the county attend school in Circleville, while the first, second and third grades attend classes in Junction.

The three-teacher facility was constructed during the 1930s, as a WPA project. The stone in the walls came from the old school building which stood on the same spot and was torn down.

It had four rooms, and auditorium and school lunch kitchen.

Homer Savage is principal of the school and Mrs. Una Stapel and Ronald Simkins are teachers.

Copyright 2006 by Ardis E. Parshall

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