Police release pictures of suspect in Old Bedford Middle School fire investigation

No injuries reported

11:30 p.m. Update

Fire at old Bedford Middle School. (WSLS)

BEDFORD, Va. – Fire crews told 10 News they will remain on the scene overnight.

The Bedford Police Department is still working to find the person pictured below.

5:07 p.m. Update

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Surveillance images of the suspect police believe started the fire at the old Bedford Middle School on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020.

The Bedford Police Department said the three images above are initial photos found from surveillance cameras inside and outside the building.

Police are reviewing all of the cameras and attempting to locate all of the cameras inside the building.

If anyone who can help identify this suspect is asked to contact Bedford Police Department Investigator Blackford at 540-587-6011 or the Fire Marshal Investigator George at 434-566-7905.

3:55 p.m. Update

Thursday’s massive fire at the old Bedford Middle School was intentionally set, according to Bedford Police Chief Todd Foreman.

Ford told 10 News that pictures of the suspect will soon be made available.

Below is an aerial video showing the before and after of the building.

3:15 p.m. Update

Firefighters have a log of cleaning up to do after flames ripped through the old Bedford Middle School on Thursday morning.

The blaze drew the attention of many residents but fighting it wasn’t easy.

When crews arrived at about 3 a.m. the fire had started in the right side of the building and worked its way across.

Fire Chief Brad Creasy said that there’s no telling how long the fire had been burning before his crews arrived, but did say that it was too risky to go into the building right away.

An orange glow covered the night sky as the roof of the historic school burned.

The school was built in the mid-1930s, according to the town’s website.

"It’s a darn shame that something like this had to happen. I mean it looks terrible now,” said Nick Chryssikos, who lives in Bedford.

As the sun came up, the flames grew, taking down the iconic part of the roof, the bell tower. Below is a video showing the

“We’re trying to operate several latter trucks. So that consumes a lot of water,” said Creasy.

Firefighters said there was no one in the building, but police said there have been a number of break-ins and vandalism incidents at the building in the past six months and it’s something that will be investigated.

Vandalism incidents include damage in the cafeteria, a water fountain being ripped out, broken windows and doors, as well as broken glass throughout the building. Police said that cameras installed in the building also showed people stealing plaques inside the school.

“We’ve been trying to solve that. We got some surveillance into some of the individuals. And we will be reaching out to some of them,” said Bedford Police Chief Todd Foreman.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Police said there was no power to the building.

1:26 p.m. Update

The building was originally built as Bedford High School and was part of the town’s D-Day and WWII history. The site is a point of interest on the Bedford Boys Homefront Tour, hosted by the Memorial, and was the location of a farewell dance in 1941.

The following statement may be attributed to April Cheek-Messier, National D-Day Memorial Foundation President:

“We are deeply saddened to see such an iconic structure in our community succumb to a devastating fire. The old middle school was an important cornerstone for generations in our community including some of our very own “Bedford Boys” who spent many hours within its walls. Leslie Abbott, John Clifton, Frank Draper, Earl Parker, Weldon Rosazza, John Schenk, Elmere Wright, and Grant Yopp were among the Bedford Boys who attended the high school and were later killed on D-Day. The class of 1944 erected a plaque on the grounds of the school to commemorate these young men and others from Bedford who died in World War II who had attended the school. It was a poignant reminder of sacrifice and the youthful generation who gave their all for the freedoms we enjoy today. Though the school stands damaged, it still stands, and we will remember the lives that graced its halls for generations – as well as the precious freedom that so many within it were willing to preserve.”

9:30 a.m. Update

Authorities announced that crews have almost contained the fire at the former Bedford Middle School that started around 3 a.m. Thursday.

No first responders were injured during the blaze, and crews say that no one was inside the building when they arrived.

According to firefighters, the fire could have been burning for an hour or more before crews arrived. The main building suffered heavy damage, and the bell tower of the former school has collapsed.

Officials have not yet determined the cause of the fire, which is under investigation by the fire marshal’s office.

Authorities said that there has been vandalism at the building recently, but that it is too early to officially make that connection.

8:45 a.m. Update

Crews have been battling a fire at the former Bedford Middle School for hours as flames continue to shoot from the building’s roof.

The bell tower that once sat on top of the school has collapsed, and people who once attended the school are in disbelief.

“I just saw a glow coming from the smoke. I walked out of my front door and the entire left side was just completely engulfed in flames with fire coming out of the windows,” said one former student.

Authorities have not said if anyone was injured or inside at the time of the fire.

In April, Bedford town council approved a deal to renovate the old school into apartments.

Video of the fire throughout the morning:

Original story

Authorities say crews are on the scene of a fire at an old school in Bedford.

The fire is at a vacant building that used to be a school at 503 Longwood Avenue, according to police.

Crews are on the scene of a fire at the old Bedford Middle School (WSLS)

The road is blocked off at Peaks Street and North Bridge Street.

When asked, sheriff’s deputies say they have been at the scene of the fire for so long they lost track.

In April, Bedford town council approved a deal to renovate the old school into apartments.

10 News has a crew on the way to the scene. Stay with us as this breaking news story develops.

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