ALMIRA, Wash. - The Almira community is now trying to come to terms with the loss of the elementary and middle school which saw generations of families go through.
Twenty-four hours later, the building is still smoldering. Fire crews have been there throughout the day spraying down what's left of Almira Elementary and Middle School. Smoke is seen from down HWY 2 but it's a stark difference from what was seen Tuesday night as flames ripped through the school.
"My daughter Mallory called me and said mom the school is burning down," Corinne Isaak, the Executive Director for the Columbia Basin Foundation and a mom of one Almira 6th grader.
The community is in utter disbelief.
"I kinda looked down the road and saw yep schools on fire," Kari Mckay, a town resident said.
The fire ranged through the night.
"The flames come out the gym door and then boom there goes the roof," Mana Victorino, the PE health teacher, social studies teacher and head football coach at Almira said.
Nine fire departments responded and over 100 firefighters were on scene trying to contain the flames.
The sound of fire crackling, windows shattering and roof rupturing heard throughout the small rural town.
"It was sad to see the last part to go - once it went the flames were probably 50 feet high, never seen anything like that - as tall as the water tower as tall as the chimney- it was just something else to see," Victorino said.
A day later, an eerie quiet as Almira Elementary and Middle School is nothing but rubble.
"I didn't think Monday was going to be the last time I was ever going to step foot in this school," he said.
"A small-town school is the heartbeat of a community and basically in Almira last night they lost their heartbeat," Isaak said.
"I've been a part of a few operations like this but not in your own town," Denny Pinar the Lincoln County District 8 Fire Chief said.
The school, just as old as the town, with no sprinkler system to hold off the flames.
"Believe it or not there is not a lot of buildings that are retroffited," he said. "It's something that is extremely costly."
"This building was built around the 1950's," he said.
And the memorabilia inside was lost forever.
"This is unreal, it's unreal I went to kindergarten here. I graduated from high school here in 1987, my dad graduated from high school here," McKay said.
"My kids went to school there, I went to school there my mom went to school there," Pinar said.
"Class pictures from years and years ago from 1900s were all from the whole school," Victorino said.
But some things have been salvaged, a picture inside the principal's office and some sports equipment.
"They found this sign on the principal's desk completely unscathed," Pinar said.
"Tana: So there's at least a little hope?
"Yeah... A little hope," he said.
Luckily no one was inside because a power outage canceled school. But questions surround what will happen to the elementary and middle school students and staff who work here. Where will they go? What materials and technology will they have?
The superintendent writing in an email, that elementary students will be housed at Almira Community Center and Almira Community Church. Middle school students will go to Coulee City starting on the 25th. They are hoping to move into portable classrooms within three months.
In the meantime, school was canceled Wednesday and remote learning will be provided until next Friday.
But with a high percentage of disadvantaged students enrolled, cell service can be tricky.
"We do a really good job with providing those kids with hotspots and I know the principal is already trying to get them chrome books from the ESD if they don't have them. Just trying to figure out really which kids have them, which kids will be able to bring them home," Victorino said.
This small-town community showing its support already through donations. The Almira School Warrior Strong Fund, just one way you can help.
"In the sense of providing supplies, technology and staff assistance," Isaak said. "One company has already called the Columbia Basin Foundation and pledged technology $35,0000 is set to hep and I have other businesses and families and donations online."
On the horizon is the process of rebuilding.
"It's in the best interest of the school to rebuild. They are going to rebuild it better. Build it better. Yeah, it will be here," Pinar said.
"We're the Ach Warriors and we're going to rebuild," Isaak said.
If you want to help, there are many ways you can. From donating items to cash.
You can make donations to the Almira School Warrior Strong Fund by clicking here. Donations can be through PayPal or by sending checks to CBF 234 1st Ave NW Suite B. Ephrata, WA 98823.