Eighty Lubbock children will not be attending Southwest Private School Tuesday morning. The school, located at 38th and Quaker caught on fire around 4am Monday and burned for eight hours. NewsChannel 11 has been following this story since the fire started. Jennifer Vogel continues our coverage.
The remaining parts of the building have been torn down making it a complete loss. If you look around you can see that the only things they were able to salvage were a few toys and playground equipment. Besides the material things, most parents say they were heartbroken to learn that the owner would not rebuild.
"August 15, 2008 came today and we won't be keeping your kiddos anymore," said Celia Pruitt. August 2008 is when owner Celia Pruitt planned to retire, but after the fire, the school, a 40-year-old Lubbock landmark, is now closed for business.
One neighbor said, "I can't believe I'm seeing this." Neighbors and unsuspecting parents watched in disbelief as the daycare disappeared before their eyes. "It's sad to see this. Parents won't get to drop their kids off for school. I feel sorry for the kids too, I know it's gonna be hard for them."
Firefighters arrived just after 4am Monday morning, when the school was already engulfed in flames. Firefighter Royce Ethridge says, "there was a lot of fire load: books, school supplies, such that inside it got going really good before we could get a handle on it."
It took fire crews eight hours to stop the flames. When they were done, nothing was left of the building, and only scraps of paper and burnt toys remained.
"It's a home away from home." The fire left parents like Chrissy Huffman without a place to leave her kids. "I finally found what I probably think is the greatest daycare, so I hope someone can help them out and keep them going," said Huffman.
But Celia Pruitt says she can't keep going. Her retirement plans were for health reasons, and friends say she believes the fire was a sign to close.
Investigators are still trying to find out how the fire started. They still have some questions for the owner and the fire crew that first arrived. But, we've learned this was not the first fire at Southwest Private School. A fire destroyed one of the buildings in 1975. The owners gutted it out and rebuilt. Sadly, that will not be the same story this time. The school which opened in 1968 is officially closed and will not reopen.
The good news, school was not in when the fire began, and no one was injured in the fire.
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