RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)— Firefighters at William Fox Elementary said that there are still a couple “hotspots” they are working to put out Saturday morning after the school went up in flames late Friday night. Drone footage taken at the scene this morning shows the destruction.
Richmond Public Schools held a press conference at 10 a.m. with Superintendent Jason Kamras, Mayor Levar Stoney, William Fox Principal Daniela Jacobs, and Richmond City Fire Chief Melvin Carter to discuss more details on the incident and “next steps for the Fox community.”
During the press conference Saturday, Richmond Fire Chief Melvin Carter, said that the department responded to an alarm earlier that night, that went off at the school prior to the fire. Montoya said that crews gained access to the building, investigated for 40 minutes, and then left. He said that no presence of fire was detected at that time. Crews were dispatched to the school for the second time around 10:40 p.m. for the structure fire call.
Montoya said that an investigation is ongoing into the type of alarm that went off at the school, citing a burglar alarm as a possibility.
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This morning, 8News viewers found words of encouragement written in colorful chalk on the sidewalk by the school using the hashtag #FOXLOVENOTES. As of 9:30 a.m., fire crews remained on scene putting water on the school’s smoldering remains.
The Richmond Fire Department responded to a structure fire at 2300 Hanover Avenue around 10:35 p.m. Friday, where they encountered the school engulfed in heavy smoke, and flames coming from the top floor above the main entrance. RFD said the fire quickly spread across the top of the building.
The Chesterfield and Henrico Fire Departments were called in to help battle the blaze while Richmond Police provided traffic control around the area.
Richmond Schools Superintendent, Jason Kamras, alerted the community of the fire by tweeting, “I’m heartbroken to share that Fox ES is on fire. I’m on site with Principal Jacobs. RFD is doing their very best to contain it. I’ll share more information once I have it. Please keep the Fox community in your prayers tonight.”
At 11:09 the roof began to collapse, so crews were evacuated from the inside of the building and redirected to focus efforts on extinguishing from the outside. At 1:21 a.m. firefighters were still trying to get the fire under control. Firefighters used long ladders on the trucks to combat the flames from above.
A crowd gathered outside of the school to witness the building’s destruction. Parents of children who attend the school reacted on social media, with Virginia Senator Jennifer McClellan tweeting, “As a Fox Elementary parent, I am dreading telling my kids the news of the fire when they wake up. Please hold the Fox family in your prayers. The kids, parents, teachers, and staff have been through a lot in the last 2 years, but the love we have for one another is strong.”
RFD said nobody was hurt in the fire, and is investigating the cause of the blaze.
The fire was marked under control over four hours after crews first responded, at 2:44 a.m.
This is a developing story, stay with 8News for updates.