Fire Marshal: Hildebran school fire either electrical or arson

Meeting Friday night concerning fire in Hildebran

HILDEBRAN, NC (WBTV) - It's been five days since flames ripped through the old Hildebran High School, but it's still the topic of most conversation there. For many, like Vivian Wilson, the school is much more than a building.

"I cried. And I cried a lot more when I came out and saw the destruction," Wilson said.

Charred brick and warped pieces of wood are nearly all that's left now, a sight Sonya Scott can't force herself to drive by.

"I went to school there. My mother and father went to school there," Scott said.

That's a response you hear a lot around Hildebran, which is why so many came to Friday night's council meeting, hoping for answers. The school hasn't held student's for many years, but the memories are still there.

The Burke County Fire Marshal opened up the meeting.

"We can't eliminate an electrical fire because the building did have electricity and we can't eliminate a fire started by human hands," he said.

"Common sense tells you that it's arson," Wilson said.

Many are quick to call it exactly that.

"I think it was a strange coincidence. Because it was about to come to a settlement and it burned," Scott said.

According to the Fire Marshal, the investigation has been put on hold because the building is so unstable.

Beverly Nichols is eager for answers. Especially after she says they've fought so long to keep the school standing.

"We're just standing on Matthew 10:26 that says everything hidden will be revealed," Nichols said.

Some are confident that will happen, while others think the answers are nothing but ashes inside.

"I think we've all just about excepted that we'll never know," Scott said.

Nichols says a reward may be offered for any information leading to an arrest. Contact the Burke County Sheriff's office if you know anything.

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