COTTAGEVILLE, SC (WCSC) - A four-alarm fire destroyed Cottageville's largest building early Tuesday morning.
By the afternoon, cleanup continued at the old high school gym in Cottageville while firefighters continued to monitor hotspots.
Colleton County Fire Chief Barry McRoy said any visible smoke is coming from hot spots underneath all the remains of the old building.
The call came in at 6:30 a.m from crews who were constructing a park nearby. Crews battled the blaze in the 100 block of Salley Ackerman Drive for more than five hours. Smoke could be seen from Highway 17A and flames shot 20 feet into the air, Mayor Tim Grimsley said.
"As soon as I left my driveway I could see the smoke and tears came to my eyes then," he said. "I can't imagine what this school meant to some of the other folks in town."
Nobody was injured and nobody was in the building at the time of the fire, according to officials. Grimsley said one firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion.
"This building, this old school has got a lot of historic memories for a lot of the town's folks," Grimsley said.
Some gathered Tuesday to see the devastation of a building they said held a lot of history.
"I went from Pre-K to fifth grade here," Victoria Grimsley said. "I went to elementary school here, my grandmother went to high school here, my great-grandmother was a teacher here when it was a high school."
Others came to pass out food and water to firefighters.
"It's a close-knit group. You see someone struggling or something, you try to help them out as best as you can," Cottageville resident Anthony Lapresta said.
Officials said it held the city's Christmas and Halloween decorations.
As the community mourns the loss of their building, they're also hopeful for what's to come.
"Maybe something new will come around to Cottageville and give the kids something to do," Victoria Grimsley said.