Abandoned School a Hazard For The Community - WSET.com - ABC13

Abandoned School a Hazard For The Community


Madison Heights, VA - A fire at the Phelps Road School in Madison Heights was deliberately set. That's what investigators say after the old school caught fire on Saturday night.

The building has been vacant for 20 years.

Gary Roakes the Director of Public Safety says someone started a fire in a hole in the rotted out floor, causing minimal damage.

Roakes says they're lucky the damage wasn't worse; and that no one got hurt. He says buildings like this are a hazard to the community and also to first responders.

The building is condemned and the county is fighting an appeal in an effort to tear it down.

Roakes says these types of buildings encourage criminal activity. He added there are often squatters who let themselves in, spray more graffiti, and it encourages drug activity.

Roakes says when first responders answer calls to older buildings, there is danger in just searching the building.

"It's an extreme hazard. Not only is it just an eye sore for the community but it's a hazard for everybody involved- the protection of services, law enforcement and firefighters as well," said Roakes.

Dennis Gibbs, the property owner, made a second appeal to Amherst County on December 5 asking that the school not be torn down.

The appeal is currently under review, and the investigation into this arson is ongoing.

If you know anything about this fire, call the Amherst County Sheriff's Office.



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