Huge fire destroys former school building in Harnett County

A former high school building in Harnett County was destroyed by a huge fire overnight Saturday and Sunday morning.

The fire was reported shortly after 9:30 p.m. at the former Boone Trail High School on U.S. 421 in the Mamers area between Lillington and Broadway. Firefighters found heavy fire conditions when they arrived, said Thomas Honeycutt, a news photographer.

Harnett County assistant manager Brian Haney said Sunday afternoon that officials are asking the public to stay away from the area because the remaining structure is at risk of collapsing. Firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to the neighboring Boone Trail Community Center and Library, he said, but activities in those buildings have been suspended until further.

“The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time,” Haney said. “The Harnett County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating.”

Fire departments from five counties fought the blaze, Honeycutt said.

State Rep. David Lewis of Harnett County said on Facebook the building was an important community landmark.

A video made by Harnett County Schools Superintendent Aaron L. Fleming, shared to Facebook by Lewis, shows massive flames on the roof and a wall and coming from the windows. Firefighters were pouring water onto the roof to try to knock it down.

The firefighters had trouble with the water supply in the fire hydrants at the school and close by, Honeycutt said, so tanker trucks were requested to haul water to the site.

Haney said the building was built in 1928 and vacated in 2010 when the new Boone Trail Elementary School opened. “In 2017, the County opened the Boone Trail Community Center & Library in the media center and gymnasium,” Haney said. “The County was in the process of engaging Preservation NC to market the vacant portions of the property for redevelopment.”

Preservation North Carolina is a private nonprofit historic preservation organization that seeks to protect historic properties, it says on its website.

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(Fayetteville Observer, 5/5/19)