Cedartown and Polk County firefighters spent several hours Thursday night battling a structure fire at the former Purks Middle School gym in Cedartown.
The nearly 70 year old building, originally the beloved old Cedartown High School gym, had been vacant for some time after the previous owner foreclosed on the property.
According to Cedartown Fire Department Assistant Chief Felix White, a call came in at 8:30 p.m. of a structure fire at the old gym, located at 330 West Avenue. When firefighters arrived, they found heavy flames and smoke bellowing from the rear of the building. After clearing the building and dousing the flames, the area was cordoned off as the department awaits a state fire investigator. All units were back in service by 10:40 p.m. Thursday, according to a Facebook post from the Polk County Fire Department.
Assistant Chief White said that there has been a recent history of vagrants entering the structure and said that the fire is being investigated as a possible arson, as there were no utilities connected to the structure. No one was located in the structure while firefighters were on the scene.
After Purks Middle School closed in 2002, the gym was used to host amateur wrestling matches, concerts, and other events. In recent years, the building remained empty and had fallen into disrepair following incidents of theft and vandalism.
The entire Purks campus was sold to a church in late 2017, Mision Pentecostes Buenas Nuevas, which was in the process of relocating there.
The investigation is still underway and the cause has yet to be determined.
Mr. Bill Lundy contributed to this report