SHEYENNE, N.D. – Richard Comer was weary as he explained that a fire totaled the old Sheyenne elementary and high school here Saturday.

“It’s a sad situation to see the old school burn down. It’s special to a lot of people here because a lot of the older people went to school there or their kids did. It has a lot of sentimental value to the community here,” he said.

Comer, who is the mayor of Sheyenne and chief deputy of the Eddy County Sheriff’s Department, responded to the scene on Sunnyside Avenue with the Sheyenne Fire Department at about 11 a.m. Saturday after someone called 911 to report smoke coming out of the abandoned building.

By 9:30 p.m., flames had destroyed the 115-year-old brick school building, causing the roof to cave in and burning the building’s belongings, which were mostly old chairs and other remnants of the school. Comer said the building is a total loss.

“It’s just a shell now,” he said. “It’s burned out inside except for the brick walls; part of them are still standing, part fell down.”

The cause of the fire is unknown, although Comer said he thinks it started in the attic. Firefighters were working Saturday night to spare the building’s addition, which was built in 1960 and houses the Open Season Lodge and Event Center. Although there were still active flames, Comer said the event center only had smoke damage so far.

Residents in Sheyenne, a small town of about 200 located two and a half hours northwest of Fargo, were spared smoke due to an east-blowing wind, Comer said.

“It was a blessing because we might’ve had to evacuate people in town if it blew toward us,” he said.

Sheyenne, Carrington, New Rockford and Devils Lake fire departments responded to the scene. Crews were helping transport water to conserve the town’s water supply and Comer expected firefighters to be working through the night.

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