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Old middle school gym catches fire during demolition

By By Lisa Tindell
Smoke billowed down Martin Luther King Avenue Friday afternoon as the old Escambia County Middle School gym roof began to burn.
Atmore Fire Chief Gerry McGhee said the fire was an accident that occurred as the building was being dismantled by workers with Viking Industries.
Gerald Jones, maintenance supervisor for Escambia County Schools in Atmore, said the roofing material was ignited when workers were cutting steel trusses at the site.
Jones also said Viking Industries workers were cutting the iron trusses into reusable lengths to recycle as much as possible from the building.
McGhee said the fire required some help for his crew from the Poarch Volunteer Fire Department.
Escambia County School Superintendent William Hines said the building being demolished was beyond repair.
Hines said the roof was beginning to fail and other parts of the building made it too dangerous to be used.
Hines said the main portion of the school will remain intact with Atmore Family Life as the sole occupant of the building.
McGhee said the fire took some time to completely extinguish due to the nature of the burning materials.
McGhee said three engines were used at the scene along with the ladder truck from the Poarch VFD.
(Publisher Adam Prestridge contributed to this article.)