Fire damages former Vickers school | Local News

PAOLA — A piece of Miami County history was damaged Friday, May 13, when the old Vickers Schoolhouse caught fire southeast of Paola.

Paola Fire Chief Andy Martin said the building, which was recently renovated and turned into an Airbnb accommodation rental, was unoccupied at the time and no injuries were reported.

The exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but Martin said a lightning strike was a possibility.

“There were strikes reported in the area at this time,” Martin said.

The fire was reported at 10:33 a.m. and firefighters from the first engine attended the scene at 10:41 a.m. They arrived at the school, which is near the intersection of 319th Street and Victory Road, at 10:47 a.m., according to the fire log.

Martin said smoke was coming from the structure, but there were no visible external flames, so firefighters had to go get it. Martin said the building’s balloon structure made it difficult to control the fire because there was no firewall and the flames were funneled into the attic.

“He’s going to take the path of least resistance,” Martin said.

Extreme heat and an understaffed crew also made things difficult, but Martin said he was grateful for the help he received from several agencies, including Osawatomie, Louisburg, Wellsville and Johnson County Fire District. No. 1.

There were about 12 Paola firefighters on the scene, and Martin said there were usually about 18. A nearby fire hydrant with high pressure helped the situation because there wasn’t as much need. with tender help.

Still, firefighters spent several hours tackling the blaze and only cleared the scene after 2 p.m.

Martin said many firefighters used three cylinders of compressed air due to the extreme heat and the heavy equipment they were carrying.

“It’s like working out in a ski suit,” Martin said. “It’s eating away at your life.”

A fire truck driver used a nozzle to create a mist of fog, which Martin said many firefighters stood in like a shower after coming from inside the building.

Sometimes they thought they had put out the fire, but Martin said a fan was used to see where the flames would start, then firefighters would focus on that area.

Martin said it appears the fire started in the kitchen near the ground, then penetrated the walls and traveled up the steeple.

Photos taken at the scene show extensive damage, but you can still clearly see the sign that says “Vickers School: 1869 – 1966” as well as a sign on the structure that says “District 49 1891”.

According to information from the Airbnb site, the school is over 150 years old and served its school district from 1869 until the 1960s. It then became a gathering place for the community.

In 2016, the school was completely renovated with modern elements and rented out to visitors, according to the site.

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