Fire destroys Latham school

The walls are almost all that is left of the Latham school building, which suffered a fire early Wednesday.

The walls are almost all that is left of the Latham school building, which suffered a fire early Wednesday. Photo by David Wilson.

An early morning fire left the Latham R-V School devastated and the community in shock.

As the sun rose behind the clouds, the destruction was obvious, with the main part of the school building destroyed. Only part of the walls still stand. The office area and gymnasium sustained heavy smoke and water damage but fire damage was limited. The annexes on the east part remained intact, although they were full of acrid smoke.

School has been cancelled for the more than 60 students, kindergarten through eighth grade, at least for the rest of the week.

Administrator-Principal Tanya Brown said she doesn’t know what the district will do.

“The school board will have to decide,” she said.

An emergency meeting of the Latham R-V School Board could be called soon.

Several individuals from the state fire marshal’s office were on the scene, but declined to speculate on the cause of the fire.

According to firefighters on the scene, a neighbor woke up just before 3 a.m., saw the school was in flames and began making phone calls.

Tipton firefighter Scott Clifford and firefighters converged on the small town on Route E a few miles south of its intersection with Highway 50. Eventually firefighters from six departments and districts were called to the scene.

Those helping with the fire included California Rural, Fortuna, Tipton, Versailles Rural and Moreau Fire. The ladder truck of California City Fire Department also responded.

According to firefighters on the scene, the firefighting efforts were hampered by the lack of availability of sufficient water for the pumpers. As a result, tanker trucks made several treks to Fortuna for water to bring to the scene of the fire.

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