January 17, 1941

The burning of Bellows Free Academy in Fairfax last Friday evening, with its entire equipment and records, was a hard blow to that town but arrangements are being made to reopen school in temporary quarters after a two weeks recess in which the necessary preparations will be made. Space will be made usable in the basement of the two Fairfax church buildings, probably, for some of the grade pupils and Supt. Homer E. Hunt has offered the use of his house, which is vacant at present. The day after the fire St. Albans offered the use of a vacant floor of the Fairfield Street School, and from other towns offers of equipment and supplies were also received.

The fire which was visible for many miles filled the entire building with incredible speed following an explosion which was heard by many people in the village and though the alarm was given immediately it was impossible for any one to enter the building.

The Milton Fire Dept. which was called, helped in keeping the buildings at the Hunt place from catching fire. Several of the teachers lost valuable books and supplies of their own, which they were using, and the town's library of about two thousand volumes was also lost.

Bellows Free Academy was a 3-story building built in 1902, and with all equipment the loss is placed from $150,000 to $200,000. It is reported there was $50,000 in insurance on the building. The building was used by about 350 students in both grades and high school.

C. W. Demeritt is the school principal. The trustees of the school are: Carl Gray, chairman; G. L. Butler, treasurer; W. E. Barkyoumb, Reginald Nichols and Hebert Bellows. Homer E, Hunt is (Newspaper Clipping was cut off here)


Believe Boiler Explosion Cause Of Destruction

Special to the Free Press


FAIRFAX, Jan. 17. - School books, test papers and perhaps some cherished belongings of about, 300 pupils went up in smoke tonight when Bellows Free academy as well as the town library housed within it), here burned. The fire, it is believed, was caused by the explosion of a boiler shortly after 8 tonight. At 10 tonight the fire was still burning and with the flames bright within the skeleton of the steel framework, the illusion was created of merely a lighted building.


The explosion was heard by several persons in town and almost immediately a call went out to the Milton fire department for aid. The firefighters, however, were powerless, such great headway had the flames made and they confined their efforts to safeguarding the nearby buildngs. No other structures took fire, but the firemen were seen working for some time on a nearby house.

Cost $50,OOO

Bellows Free academy was built about 39 years ago at a cost of $50,000. The school was unique in that it transported about 70 percent of its pupils. Because of its excellent teaching staff and its unusual facilities the academy received pupils from numerous surrounding towns, some of the students coming eight miles to attend classes. Nine barges have been employed in bringing in the students; besides which a number of the pupils operated their own cars.

The academy held classes from the first grade through high school and taught about 300 pupils, many coming from Fletcher, Westford, Georgia and Fairfield.

Destroyed with the school building was the town library. A carload of coal had just been put into the building, too.

The loss is partially covered by insurance, it was stated.

Explosion Heard All Over Town

Special to the Free Press


ST. ALBANS, Jan. 17.-Such large crowds were attracted by the fire that destroyed Bellows Free academy in Fairfax tonight that motor vehicle officers were summoned to direct traffic.

Shortly before midnight some of the walls of the academy had fallen in and the fire still was smouldering in the ruins.


The explosion of a boiler, believed to have caused the fire, was, heard all over town, it was stated in Fairfax tonight. The first persons who arrived at the academy found the building a mass of flames from the front hall through to the fire escapes. Had the explosion occurred during a school session, authorities stated, it is certain that the pupils would have been trapped within the structure.

No decision had yet been made at midnight as to where classes would be held Monday. A vacant church may be used, and some of the pupils may be transported into St. Albans until the building can be replaced.