Historic Vermont schoolhouse gutted by fire

July 19, 2022 GMT

NEWBURY, Vt. (AP) — Fire has gutted an historic schoolhouse in the small Vermont village of Wells River.

Firefighters from Vermont and New Hampshire said the flames were already in the roof when they responded within minutes of the call on Monday, WCAX-TV reported. Three hours later, flames were visible in the steeple of the old grade school.

The 1870s building is on the the National Register of Historic Places but hasn’t be used as a school since the 1970s. It’s had various commercial and residential uses since then.

John Mahnker, who said he graduated from the school in 1949, watched as firefighters poured water on the flames.

“Well, when we were in school here, we always hoped it would burn down like school kids do but never thought it would ever happen,” he said. “It’s too bad, it’s a shame, we have lost several things like that here in town.”

The building owner was on a lift removing paint with a heat gun when she accidentally caught the structure on fire, firefighters told the news station. The residents and their dogs were able to make it safely out of the building, firefighters said.