Fourth-floor classrooms in the
former Moline High School and Black Hawk College building at 10th Avenue
and 16th Street burned Monday evening.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The mayor and Corelis both said
youngsters recently have been breaking out windows.
“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.
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.
Deirdre Cox Baker can be contacted
at (563) 383-2492 or firstname.lastname@example.org