Mirando city flames took 24 hours to battle

LAREDO, TX (KGNS) - We have a follow up on the fire that engulfed the old Mirando City High School building on Sunday.

Webb County volunteer fire crews needed more than a full 24 hours to completely put out the flames after they received the call Sunday around 1:30 p.m.

They'd been working non-stop since that time up to five p.m. Monday, trying to put out the fire and extinguish the basement, which was covered by the roof that collapsed.

There were no injuries, and no damage to homes around.

Jacob Willsey and his father live across the way in the opposite direction of where the wind was blowing, he says. His dad woke him to tell him, and when he stepped outside, the heat was immense he said.

When it comes to rural areas like this, volunteer assistant chief says there's two major challenges: response times and enough water to use.

“Walked outside of my house without a shirt and you just felt all this heat going that way instead of this way… Luckily the wind was going that way and not this way because it would’ve gotten our house.”

Jacob Willsey says when crews arrived to the scene was when white smoke turned into big flames.

What used to be the town high school has been vacant since 1994, when the school closed.

“It meant a lot because a lot of people would go to school there, home of the panthers... I mean that’s where everyone grew up in. It’s the only school here so I mean they had no choice coming here, it’s our hometown.”

Webb County volunteer assistant fire chief Felix Nunez says it was used as storage, and the crew found mostly books inside. Also adding that high winds prevented them from killing the fire that Sunday night.

“Last night we thought we had it. The wind was horrendous last night. And it just kept flaring up, flaring up. And we've been here since yesterday at one-thirty.”

Webb County volunteer fire department got to the building within 15 minutes. Their fire truck number one is stationed just outside of Bruni.

However, water pressure for domestic use and fire suppression in rural areas are two different levels.

“Your fire suppression for your bigger hoses is not going to cut it, we have to be using smaller hoses. A fire this magnitude, a small hose is not going to do it. It’s gotta be a two and a half inch or three inch in order to actually suppress the fire.”

Nunez says when the crews arrived, the initial hydrant they connected to was dry, resulting in time needed to find another hydrant. By that time, the roof was collapsed.

“Without water, actually our equipment, our personnel, our fire trucks are really not going to do too much. So we adapt and do with what we got.”

With last night being so windy, Nunez says the ambers were flying, and that made the exposures another thing to focus on. There was a house very close to it which was empty, as well.

Response times are so critical, as is water supply. A delay in finding water resulted in the roof collapsing before they could do anything.

There is no word on the cause yet.