CONTINUING COVERAGE: Old Bedford Middle School fire, police continue searching for individual seen on surveillance footage

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LIVE COVERAGE: A fire broke out overnight at the old Bedford Middle School. The school is heavily damaged and the tower over the center of the school has collapsed. Police say the fire was intentionally set. Below are live updates from the WFXR News team.

UPDATE: 1/24/2020 5:55 A.M.: Another fire has rekindled at the old Bedford Middle School. Firefighters from the Bedford Fire Department are currently on the scene. Deputy Fire Marshal Investigator Bily Creasey says a crew was battling a small fire inside, located near the library. The fire has now been contained.

A construction crew is also on scene as they continue to install steel frames for structural support of the old Bedford Middle School.

Courtesy: Breana Albizu WFXR
Courtesy: Breana Albizu WFXR

WFXR’s Breana Albizu is on the scene. Tune in to Good Day Virginia for more information and all the latest updates.

UPDATE: 11:15 P.M.: The fire has rekindled at old Bedford Middle School. WFXR News has a crew on the scene. We’ll continue to bring you more information through the night and on Good Day Virginia.

UPDATE: 10:10 P.M.: Our continuing coverage with WFXR News’ Eric Pointer live at the old Bedford Middle School on WFXR News First at Ten:

UPDATE: 7:00 P.M.: WFXR News’ Santiago Melli-Huber has a live update from the old Bedford Middle School.

UPDATE: 5:40 P.M.: Smoke is expected to spew for several days as a portion of the fire continues to burn in the old Bedford Middle School building, according to Brad Creasy, Fire Chief.

Crews initially responded to this fire around 2:53 a.m. Thursday and faced heavy flames visible throughout the building and roof.

Portions of the roof, which entailed original and new roofing installed approximately 15 years ago, collapsed “within 30 minutes of the initial 911 call,” according to the Fire Department statement.

After the roof collapse, firefighters battled the fire from outside the building in an attempt to control it from spreading.

The roof collapsed over auditorium seating, which created pockets of fires. These areas continue to burn since accessing these fires would put crews in danger, Creasy said.

Creasy also said there are no reports of injuries from firefighters or residents.

UPDATE: 5 P.M.: The Bedford Police Department released surveillance photos of the person suspected of setting the fire at the old Bedford Middle School.

The photos are from inside and outside the building.

If anyone has information and can identify this person please contact the Bedford Police Department Investigator Blackford at 540-587-6011 or the Fire Marshal Investigator George at 434-566-7905.

UPDATE 4 P.M.: Bedford Police Chief, F. Todd Foreman, said the fire at the old Bedford Middle School was intentionally set.

UPDATE 2 P.M.: The community has rallied together. WFXR captured video of citizens providing free food and water to first responders on the scene.

Fire departments from Bedford, Forest, Moneta, Smith Mountain Lake, and other communities responded to the scene this morning. The fire remains under investigation.

UPDATE 12 P.M.: WFXR reporter Breana Albizu and executive producer Ryan Saylor shared their perspective covering this morning’s fire at the old Bedford Middle School. Watch their Q&A with Good Day Virginia anchor Charmayne Brown:

UPDATE 9:45 A.M.: Crews say the fire at the old Bedford Middle school is around 95 percent contained.

Fire Chief Brad Creasy says the fire had been burning for some time before they got the call. Firefighters faced setbacks after issues with water pressure while trying to battle the blaze.

Smoke billows from the old Bedford Middle School on Thursday, Jan. 23. (Photo: Ryan Saylor/WFXR News)

Being an old building, the fire traveled fast. The roof was recently replaced in patches, which left a lot of void spaces for the fire. The roof is completely destroyed and the building faces heavy damage.

Four to five stations responded and 45 firefighters were on the scene. They expect to be on scene for several hours before they can return to service. No one was hurt while fighting the fire.

Police are asking people to avoid the area for their own safety.

UPDATE 8:30 A.M. – The main spire of the old Bedford Middle School has collapsed. Firefighters are still on scene.

ORIGINAL POST 3:58 A.M.: A massive fire is tearing through a former school in Bedford this morning.

The fire is at the 500 block of Longwood Avenue. Crews originally got the call around 3 a.m.

The road is blocked off at Peaks Street and North Bridge Street.

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