Cullman County firefighters called to help fight Blount County blaze

W.C. Mann

BLOUNTSVILLE – Around 5:15 Tuesday morning, Blount County firefighters were dispatched to investigate a fire at J.B. Pennington High School in Blountsville.  A short time later, departments from Blountsville, Locust Fork, Susan Moore, Brooksville, Royal, Summit and Nectar were on the scene, battling a blaze in the upper rear area of the main building. 

They found that the fire had apparently started in the library/media center on the second floor of the main building, and had gone up into the attic.  Eventually, the fire reached the roof, where it continued to burn long after the library fire had been extinguished.  As the morning wore on, Blount County authorities reached out for other help, and major assistance came from departments in Cullman County.

The Tribune spoke with Hanceville Fire Department (HFD) Chief Roger Green on the scene at Pennington.  According to the Green, Hanceville and Berlin were among the early non-Blount County responders, and Cullman Fire Rescue had dispatched personnel to come and relieve firefighters who were battling fatigue.  He also said that Holly Pond could be sending help as well.

“And that’s good,” said the Green.  “We need all the help we can get.”

The HFD had a particularly visible presence, with its ladder truck being used to get firefighters to the roof of the building.  The department also set up its relief trailer with generator powered fans and misters, and the Red Cross brought bottled water and snack foods; firefighters were gathering there to cool off and get checked out by EMTs.

Around 12:30, Green reported that the fire was contained atop the building but still actively burning.

“We’ve still got fire between the layers of the roofing,” said the Green.  “The fire is contained in a layer (of plywood) about 4 inches thick, burning between the layers of tin.  We’re having a hard time gaining access to it, because the roof is so weakened.  We can’t put anybody on top of it, so what we’re probably going to have to do is cut a trench all the way around that thing (the burning portion of roof) and contain it in that one area.”

As to the internal condition of the building, he explained, “All the library was burned out; just that one room.  There’s smoke damage throughout the rest of it.  It (the fire) went straight up.”

See a video of the inside of the school here, courtesy of Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail:

As of 1 p.m., firefighters were still on the scene, actively engaged in cutting away sheet metal roofing and hosing down the burning plywood they could reach.


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