ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WIS) - An athletic facility at a school in Orangeburg is left in ruins. Orangeburg Prep’s fieldhouse caught fire last night around 5 o’clock. By the time firefighters arrived onto the scene, the building was engulfed in flames.
Officials told WIS that on Tuesday, the head football coach at Orangeburg Prep was working on the athletic fields using one of the school’s lawnmowers. He experienced some issues with it, so he returned it to the fieldhouse. The coach parked it back inside the fieldhouse. He then left the area briefly, only to return to see the lawnmower engulfed in flames.
“He left to go down to our lower campus,” said Orangeburg Prep Head of School LaDan Brown. “Not even a minute down the road. And, when he was coming back, he saw the flames.”
The flames spread to the roof by the time firefighters arrived onto the scene around five o’clock. They decided to cut the fire off at the breezeway of the fieldhouse complex to contain it. The roof eventually collapsed. Officials say the building a total loss.
“This is an undivided attic,” said Jonathan Winningham, the City of Orangeburg Fire Marshall. “Once it got in, the open space and fuel, in terms of the framing. So, most of the damage is from the roof and where the roof collapsed.”
Brown is grateful no one was hurt.
“Looking in all these doorways, I was so thankful nobody was in there,” added Brown. “As you see the way it looks, somebody could have been very hurt.”
The fire burned through thousands of dollars worth of sporting and lawn maintenance equipment and supplies for the concession stands.
“This is materialistic,” said Brown. “We can replace it.”
Brown told WIS that the shock of the fire weighs heavy on Orangeburg Prep's head football coach, who witnessed the beginning of the blaze and called 911.
“This is his life,” said Brown. “All of ours. His part of OP. For him to see that, we did not have a lot to say to each other. I just looked at him and said, ‘Are you ok? Are you good?’ He said, yeah, I’m just shaken up as we all are. Yesterday, when we were on the field together, we did not do a lot of talking, it was quiet, just looking at each other.”
Brown hurts for the kids. She says her heart goes out to them, as they will now look to rebuild this fieldhouse back from the ashes.