The Blacksburg Police Department is investigating a fire that occurred in the auditorium of the old high school Saturday evening.
According to a BPD news release, it turned into a criminal investigation once it was clear that the fire was started intentionally.
The extent of the damage is still under investigation, but Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Chairman Chris Tuck said that there is believed to be no structural damage to the building.
He said that approximately seven rows of chairs were burned, but he had not actually seen it since the scene was still part of an ongoing investigation. The building is insured, which would cover any damages Tuck said.
The supervisors voted to sell the property to David Hagan and Larry Shelor (HS Development, L.L.C) in late April for $3 million. The contract gives Hagan and Shelor, who have since partnered with local developer Jeanne Stosser, a six month window to assess the property, which would allow them to back out of the deal for any reason while only losing their $25,000 deposit to the county.
Tuck said that he spoke with both Hagan and Stosser and they do not believe that the fire will have any impact on their plans to move forward with the development of the site.
In early May, Stosser told the News Messenger that there was a good chance that at least part of the old school could be used in the site’s development, possibly as some sort of retirement facility, and that much of the building was in great condition, although parts of the building had been subject to vandalism.
Citizens had also complained at previous supervisor meetings that kids were trespassing on the property, even skateboarding on the roof, which some attributed to a lack of police presence in the area.
Tuck said that County Administrator Craig Meadows has asked the Blacksburg Police Department to increase patrols of the property following Saturday’s events.
He also said that the county will be taking further security measure, but did not specify what that would entail.
Anyone with any additional information is asked to contact the Blacksburg Police Department at 961-1150, or they may anonymously contact the Tip Line at 961-1819 or by email at CIU@blacksburg.gov.