Monday, March 1, 2010

40th anniversary of AHS fire

Today marks one of darkest days in Amarillo history and certainly in the history of Amarillo High School. On March 1, 1970, a fire destroyed the old Amarillo High and its original downtown campus.

For those who were affected by the most infamous fire in Amarillo history, it's one of those times people remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.

A calm Sunday morning was interrupted around 6:15 a.m. when a custodian at nearby First Baptist Church noticed flames coming from Amarillo High. Chaos descended on the calm as a fire, started by a faulty boiler, destroyed the school.

For 4 1/2 hours, more than 100 firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze. Most of the fire damage was to the auditorium and two-thirds of the top floor, but smoke and water damage made the school a complete loss.

It was an emotional experience for 1,700 students, who came to help retrieve trophies, pictures, textbooks, and other mementos. Students finished out the school year in makeshift classrooms at several downtown churches.

The new Amarillo High would open on South Bell four years later. In doing so, it reconfigured some of the boudary lines affecting Amarillo High and Tascosa.


Armand said...

I remember it well I graduated THS in 74,, My parents remembered it well,, they graduated AHS in 54 and Dad was 1953 AGN most valuable football player presented by Putt Powell. AHS was one of the great High Schools in Tx back in the 50s.

Armand Smith

Janice said...

You are right... I do remember where I was. We had moved to Colorado Springs for a few years with my dad's company, Colorado Interstate Gas. We heard the news there and were so surprised. I had lived in the Tascosa district, so it wouldn't have been my school, but even at 10 I knew it was a big deal. I remember when they decided to build the new AHS on south Bell and everyone said that was so FAR out--- town wouldn't ever grow out that far.