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News: Local / Quad-City Area



Old school scorched; damage contained to 1 floor of former Moline High School
By Deirdre Cox Baker
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Fourth-floor classrooms in the former Moline High School and Black Hawk College building at 10th Avenue and 16th Street burned Monday evening.
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No cause for the blaze or damage estimate had been determined by late Monday night, said Gary Johnson, deputy fire chief and one of the first to reach the scene. Johnson said the fire was on the west side, middle section, in about two classrooms.
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Johnson said there were some hazardous materials in the area, but he was unaware of what type. He said 17 firefighters and three trucks responded to the scene. The investigation will continue today.
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Moline Mayor Stan Leach graduated from high school when it was located in the building. He said the city has responded to recent complaints from neighbors about its smoke stack, which is also located on the west side.
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Leach said bricks started falling out of a hole after a lightning strike. The building’s owners were to start fixing the smoke stack Monday, but Leach was not sure whether they had or not.
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The building is vacant and listed for $275,000. Realtor John Corelis of Ruhl & Ruhl has prospective buyers coming into town this week. He said the potential buyers have “lots of nice plans” for the 87,000-square-foot structure.
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Leach said he knows every nook and cranny of the building. He described the classrooms as spacious, with windows and wooden floors. Part of the area which burned used to be chemistry labs. There is an auditorium in the middle of the former school.
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The mayor and Corelis both said youngsters recently have been breaking out windows.
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“I’m glad they were able to stop the fire. It’s difficult when kids break in, no matter how hard you try to close it up,” Corelis said. Former tenants, Raymond-Beling, Inc., engineering and environmental services, vacated the building last spring.
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Moline High School was moved to its present location in 1958. Black Hawk College started in the 16th Street building in the 1950s when it was known as Moline Community College. It moved to its present campus in the 1970s.
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Deirdre Cox Baker can be contacted at (563) 383-2492 or dbaker@qctimes.com.



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