WARREN, Ark. – The morning after a disastrous fire at Warren High School, Superintendent Bryan Cornish, WHS Principal Tiffany Gathen and Fire Chief Chuck Moore were on scene surveying the damage.
Cornish said it was too early to tell if any of the building would be usable. He said two ABM custodian service workers were in the cafeteria cleaning it when the fire broke out at 6:10 p.m. Wednesday. The workers escaped the building without injuries.
“We’re trying to coordinate with Arkansas State Police’s fire marshal division and ATF,” Moore said. He explained that anytime there is more than $10,000 worth of damage in a fire, ATF could be called in to investigate. He did not have an initial estimate of the damage except to say it was definitely more than $10,000.
The fire was contained to the auxiliary gym, with smoke damage throughout the entire building. The band room had extensive smoke damage but no fire damage.
Moore said the fire did not seem to be suspicious but that it is too early to determine the cause of the fire.
Besides all of Warren Fire Department’s equipment, including an aerial truck, fire equipment and personnel were sent from Monticello, Banks, Hermitage and Kingsland. Warren Police Department and Bradley County Sheriff’s Department helped with traffic control, as a large crowd of students and other onlookers gathered near the Warren Cultural Center.
Bradley County Judge Klay McKinney, Warren Mayor Denisa Pennington and Banks Mayor Keeton Hudson were also on the scene to offer assistance.
The fire was brought under control about 8 p.m. with additional help provided through a brief torrential rain shower.
Moore also gave thanks to citizens and businesses who brought food and water to firefighters, including McDonalds, Pizza Hut and even Dominos of Monticello.
Moore noted that the central server to the school district’s computer system sustained smoke damage. Schools used an AMI day and all campuses were closed on Thursday.
Cornish said he would make a further statement later Thursday afternoon.
Top photo: The interior of Warren High shown in the aftermath of Wednesday night’s fire. Photo by Taylor Duncan.