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Jersey Old schoolhouse burns in Jersey

Blaze well underway when firefighters arrive Sunday afternoon

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Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2019 4:33 pm

JERSEY, Ga. — The nearly 100-year-old schoolhouse in Jersey burned late Sunday afternoon, prompting a massive response from Walton County Fire Rescue and the Social Circle Fire Department.

The county’s Assistant Chief Craig League said they received a call at 4:46 p.m. of a large fire at the schoolhouse. When crews arrived, the blaze had already destroyed much of the building.

Firefighters remained on scene for hours.

League said crews had great water supply to fight the fire due to the Cornish Creek Reservoir being right up the road.

“There’s a 20-inch water main right at the road that pulls from the reservoir,” League said. “So that’s made things a little easier for us.”

Smoke from the blaze was visible as far away as Covington and Loganville, witnesses said.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation early in the work week, but League said foul play has not been ruled out as a possibility.

Investigators from the state fire marshal’s office were expected on the scene early in the week.

It’s unclear when the building opened. Some people at the scene Sunday said it opened in the 1920s, but county tax records say 1900.

It’s clear the doors closed in 1964. The building was mainly used to store old electronics, according to some witnesses who watched as fire crews fought the blaze.

About 150 first through eighth graders attended the school, but the Walton County Board of Education had to transfer them to Social Circle when the 1964-65 school year began due to a new set out standards set out by the state Department of Education.

It was one of a few steps approved by the board that year, including transferring Good Hope Elementary and Johnson Institute pupils to Monroe Elementary School then building a new school, creating a new Monroe Junior High School and transferring students out of the West Walton and Walker Park schools.

The Walton County School District sold the school property decades ago, but the fire still made an impression.

“We are saddened by the loss of this historic building that was an iconic piece of our history,” Superintendent Nathan Franklin said.

“The Jersey schoolhouse stood as a testament to Walton County’s long-standing commitment to education.”

Walton County Fire Rescue dispatched four fire engines, two ladder trucks, a water tanker and three manpower squads.

Social Circle sent a fire engine and a ladder truck.

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