Old Blacksburg High School fire damaged auditorium, county to secure building

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Blacksburg Police are looking for whoever started a fire at the old Blacksburg High School. It happened Saturday evening and today investigators searched for clues while Montgomery County developed a plan to make the school more secure.

The fire happened in the auditorium and damaged about 120 very flammable seats.

Town inspectors and emergency professionals spent Monday walking through the school and closing any open doors to make sure any more vandals can't get inside.

"We found some openings that weren't secured. Montgomery County is going to have their people put a plan together to make is secure," said Wayne Garst, the fire code official within the Blacksburg Fire Department.

The school has set empty for seven years, Monday it saw activity once again.

"Most of the power was off. We were pretty, pretty sure it was a set fire," Garst said.

Saturday evening, three area fire departments responded after neighbors saw smoke pouring out of the school building.
Only a small section of the school was destroyed. Police say it was intentionally set on fire.

This comes barely two months after the building and property were sold to HS Development, a new company, looking to turn it into residential and recreational space.

Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Chairman Chris Tuck tells nothing is changing.

"They do not believe it is going to effect the sale. We have insurance to address any of the damages so I don't foresee there being a problem and they didn't foresee it being a problem," Tuck said.

The building had already received damaged after the gym collapsed in 2010, but much of the building may still be usable.

"They're exploring the possibility of saving the building and utilizing it and unfortunately the auditorium was one of the areas that they were talking about re-utilizing," Tuck said.

A lot of smoke filled the school during the fire. Fire officials say that made the more widespread damage. Insurance adjusters will look at the building later this week.