Classes cancelled at 2 Blount County Schools after fire at J.B. Pennington High School

Fire crews work to put out flames at J.B. Pennington High School. (Courtesy of Blount County 911)

Students at two Blount County schools will not return to class until April third.

This will allow time for school leaders to make plans after a fire burned through JB Pennington High School early Tuesday morning.

Nobody was injured in the fire. It’s still unclear what caused it.

Fred Cochran, Deputy State Fire Marshall said conditions were too dangerous Tuesday for crews to begin investigating inside the building. He expects the investigation to begin Wednesday.

As fire fighters worked all day to extinguish the flames, they knew they were working to save an important piece of the community.

This is not the first fire for the high school. A fire destroyed the campus in 1990.

Reba Martin, a 1945 graduate of the school, knows what the school means to Blountsville.

“This represents this community,” Martin told ABC 33/40.

That was evident when the community worked together to rebuild after the 1990 fire.

“There wasn’t enough money in the county to build it back like the alumni of the school wanted it built so they all organized,” said Martin.

They sold bricks from the old school to raise the money for a new one.

“Everyone bought bricks,” said Martin. “I've got some at my house now… I forgot what we paid for them.”

Brick by brick, the community rebuilt the school.

Tuesday, old emotions came flooding back as the school caught flames again. The area above the school's auditorium and library had smoke coming out of it all day.

Cranes had to be brought in to allow firefighters to cut the top metal roof and reach the fire in the shingles underneath.

“It hurts to see damage done to a school that you have so much loyalty and respect,” said Don Griffin, who graduated from the school years ago.

Griffin’s son attended the school during the 1990 fire. His grandson is a student there now.

“It's the hub of our community- families, their kids down through generations,” said Griffin.

Flames and smoke will be able to change that.

Whatever happens, Martin knows Blountsville will rebuild.

“You've got to really want something to work hard,” Martin said.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off