THONWS-01-06-21 KERN ST FIRE

For a second time in two months, the Kern Street School building was damaged by fire. This time, the building appears to be gutted.

THOMASVILLE — For a second time in two months, a blaze at Kern Street School brought fire crews to the historic building, which has now sustained extensive damage.

Last week, Thomasville Fire Department responded to the vacant school building at the corner of Leonard and Kern streets. According to the city of Thomasville, the building, which is adjacent to the city cemetery, was fully engulfed in flames.

Streets were blocked off, city officials said, for the safety of the firefighters and general public. As of Saturday, smoke was still billowing from the structure, nearly 48 hours after the fire had been extinguished.

Crews were working to douse the fire at around 5 p.m. Saturday. TFD Chief Eddie Bowling and City Manager Michael Brandt produced notices, warning residents to avoid the area.

A cause for the fire was still undetermined at press time.

It marks the second time in two months that the Kern Street School building has been on fire. On Nov. 2, 2020, a fire at the school was reported. Charles Malik Setzer-Hayes, 23, of Thomasville, was arrested and charged with felony burning other buildings. Another fire in 2019 also burned part of the school.

Kern Street School was once an elementary school within the city district umbrella. In the early 1990s, a shift consolidated what had been three elementary schools to one primary school and one school for fourth and fifth grades. After the shift, Thomasville Primary and Liberty Drive remained, while Kern Street School closed.

Since its closure, city officials have attempted to make improvements. The city has reportedly made attempts to rectify complaints about the property, but the location has gone through several owners since it was no longer a school.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.