Intense fire destroys historic Berryhill Elementary School building

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 4:11 PM CDT
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MILTON, Fla. (WALA) -This raging fire sent some Milton residents scrambling late Sunday night.

“Our neighbor Miss Merchant it looked like her house was on fire and she’s an elderly lady so immediately we jumped up to see what was going on,” said Russell Dieterich.

Thankfully it wasn’t the neighbor’s house, but they were shocked to see the old Berryhill Elementary School engulfed in flames.

“The heat was incredible you could actually feel the heat as we came out the backdoor from our residence and we’re about 200 feet from the fire itself,” said Dieterich.

The Milton Fire Department says firefighters spent around 12 hours battling the blaze. At one point they were pouring 3800 gallons of water a minute trying to contain it.

“Every time they hit it with the water it would just spread the flames through the entire complex,” said Dieterich.

The fire was so intense that neighbors near the school were told to evacuate. While other neighbors like Russell Dietrich they started to get worried for their own houses as they watched the fire burn.

“There’s pieces of debris probably two feet in diameter just a big fireball that was circling That was our big concern and that was really our concern. That hits a tree or lands on someone’s roof,” added Dieterich.

Thankfully nobody was hurt and no homes were damaged. Firefighters were able to get the fire under control by Monday morning but they are still monitoring the structure for any hotspots. The building stood for almost 100 years. While neighbors say a piece of history is gone. They’re thankful things didn’t get worse.

“It was an awakening experience for sure,” said Dieterich. “I think the Lord blessed us.”

The state fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

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