, Port Arthur, Texas

March 19, 2014

Fire shuts down H-F Elem, closed for week

Cody Edgerton
The Port Arthur News

FANNETT — The smoke has settled and fires are out but the devastation remains.

Hamshire-Fannett ISD officials and parents are scrambling to make plans on how to deal with the loss of their elementary school after fire broke out in the early morning hours Tuesday destroying much of the building.

The district announced that classes will be canceled for the rest of the week for elementary students.

For all other campuses, classes will resume as normal except on  Wednesday, which is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. early release for staff development.

District officials will be further discussing the availability of facilities and the return of elementary students and staff. The district will release any additional information as decisions are made.

The call about a fire at the elementary school, 23395 Burrell-Wingate Road, went out about 1:15 a.m. Tuesday to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, according to Capt. Tony McMilian.

Firefighters were on the scene in 15 minutes, finding a big fire. It took firefighters several hours to completely put out the fire with an additional eight fire departments lending help.

The fire is reported to have started in the adminstration offices, said Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Rod Carroll.

The devastation is apparent with one glance at the more than 60-year-old building. The entire middle section of the front roof collapsed, a testament to the heat and intensity of the fire.

“It just burnt that fast,” McMilian said before noon Tuesday, looking over whisps of smoke still raising from singed soot-laden debris, formerly the classrooms of children, now soaked with water and more resembling something from a war zone.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, and the ATF and State Fire Marshal’s Office have sent investigators.

No injuries were reported other than a firefighter treated for smoke inhalation on scene, Carroll said.

Neches Federal Credit Union will be accepting donations for the school.

“One of our stongest core values ... is our commitment to the community in which we serve,” Neches FCU President Jason Landry said. “So, naturally we are rallying around our neighbors at Hamshire-Fannett for a quick recovery.”

Those interested in helping the school can visit a Neches FCU location to donate office supplies of any kind such as pens, folders, paper, scissors, notebooks, etc. A fund has also been set up with the account number 54383-1.


Twitter: @cedgerton13