May 30, 1992
Duluth firefighters continued to spray water on the old Monroe School building at 26th Avenue West and First Street Friday morning, eight hours after they found the building engulfed in flames. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)
Fire levels old Monroe School; arson suspected
Authorities say the fire that destroyed the former Monroe Elementary School in Duluth’s West End Friday morning may have been intentionally set.
"The fire is of suspicious origin and is being investigated," Duluth Deputy Fire Chief Dan Haus said. "There had been reports of vandalism and breaking into the building on the previous day."
What remained of the century-old building was demolished later Friday because the structure was unsafe, Haus said.
"The walls may crumble," he said before the razing. "It’s unsafe to enter."
The fire was reported about 2:30 a.m. When firefighters arrived minutes later, the three-story building was engulfed in flames.
"It was so fully involved that we couldn’t mount an interior attack," Haus said. "It was unsafe."
So, instead of entering the building, firefighters fought the blaze with water hoses from the outside.
"We just tried to control the situation," Haus said. "There was no effort to save the building. … There wasn’t much to save. Our concern was not to risk lives."
The water dousing continued until about 3 p.m. Friday.
The school, at 2502 W. First St., was built in the late 1800s and closed in the 1950s. Since then, it had been used by various businesses for storage. Most recently it was Central Sales of Duluth.
No damage estimate was available Friday.
I think the address listed in the story may be incorrect. In any case, the school was located at 26th Avenue West and First Street, on the east (normal direction) / southeast (Duluth diagonal direction) corner. The site, now a parking lot, is right behind T-Bonz Bar. The school shows up on an old plat map posted on the Minnesota Reflections Web site here; you’ll need to use the controls on the site to zoom in.