More than 300 Mt. Morris students watched their school go up in flames Thursday. Fire tore through Rahn Elementary School and firefighters from as far as Wisconsin are still battling the blaze.
In the small community of Mount Morris word of the fire at Rahn Elementary spread as quickly as the flames.
"Instantly I started crying because I've got three of them in there. There's so many kids to get out of the building," says one parent on the scene.
Panicked parents showed up at the school minutes after students evacuated Thursday morning.
"They lost their coats, book bags. (My son) is in band and he lost his instrument. There's so much stuff to replace. I'm just so glad they're all fine."
The fire started in Jennifer's son's classroom.
"This tile fell. It was on fire and then our whole classroom caught on fire. I didn't know what happened. Then we ran out of the building," says Mark, a third grader at Rahn.
All 300 some students, teachers and staff escaped with out injury. Nearly 200 firefighters from 50 departments battled the blaze.
"We're tired and cold but we've got a job to do and we're doing it," said Mt. Morris fire chief Rob Hough.
The fire quickly raced across the roof creating challenging conditions, but the biggest problem for firefighters was finding water to put the blaze out.
"This end of town we don't have that good a water supply. We initiated tanker shuttles but it takes a while for those shuttles to get here. And that's been our biggest problem, water," said Chief Hough.
The cause of the fire is not known at this time. There are reports that it was caused by a space heater others say it might be related to maintenance work being done on the roof. The exact cause may not be known for several days.
*** Posted earlier in the day ***
Students Evacuated After Fire Starts at School
All the students and staff are accounted for after a fire breaks out at Rahn Elementary School in Mt. Morris.
The pre-k through 5th grade students were led over to the Bretheran Church across the street.
Interim Superintendent Kent Johansen says parents or guardians are being asked to pick up their children at the church.
Bus service is still running if you are unable to get your child.
Johansen says the fire started on the roof of the building and did minor structural damage. We'll have more for you on this at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Crews expect to be on the scene through the night monitoring the fire. Freezing conditions and ice could create new challenges. Built in the late 1960s, the building is a total loss. No firefighter injuries have been reported at this hour.