ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) -- A fire engulfed the old Anderson High School next to the
historic Wigwam gymnasium on Friday, sending black smoke into the air that
could be seen from miles away.
Authorities said the fire was contained to the old high school, which was built
in 1909 but closed in 1997. A cause was not immediately know.
The fire started around 3 p.m. and by 6 p.m. firefighthers thought they had it
under control. But flare-ups began shortly after that, sending more black smoke
into the sky.
Authorities said the fire started on the third floor and before long flames
were coming out of the roof. Several trucks were on the scene, some of them
shooting water onto the top of the building.
"It is through the roof at this time and it's totally out of control," a
dispatcher with the Anderson Police Department said about an hour after the
fire began. "We are calling in every firefighter at this time, even those off
She said authorities did not know if anyone was inside the building.
Other departments, including those from Chesterton and Elwood, were assisting
the effort. At one point, police shot out windows on one side of the building
so water could get through.
As of early evening, it appeared the Wigwam -- home to the Anderson Indians and
one of the largest gymnasiums in the state -- was not in danger of catching
fire. The old Wigwam burned in 1958.
Julia Derucki, who graduated from the high school in 1977, said she and her
husband were sweethearts there.
"I look at this and it almost makes me sick looking at it burn," she said.
She said she understood why the high school was closed and its classes
consolidated with another school, but said the building still meant a lot to
those who attended there.
"To see that old beautiful building, that old brick structure, just to be gone
-- it just saddens me."
The city had hoped to renovate the building.
"The possibility of saving it -- at least from my observations -- is probably
not very good," said Anderson Mayor Mark Lawler.