The old high school was home to the Bison for more than eighty years. Now, it's home to one of the biggest alleged arsons the town has ever seen. And alumni say it feels like a part of their lives went up in flames.
"Your alma mater's burned down," says. Johnny Linder, class of '80. "It's just tragic."
"We didn't imagine it'd look like that," says Pat Roosevelt, Class of '64. "It looked like a bomb, like it's been hit with a bomb."
This isn't the homecoming they wanted. They came back the old Grayville High School. Well, what's left of it.
"There was multiple fires set at the same time. So, it wasn't one fire and debris carrying over and starting another fire," says Little Wabash Fire District Chief Rob Spencer. "The burn patters, where they were at, some of the debris tells us it was an arson."
Witnesses told fire investigators they saw juveniles running out of the building a half hour before the call came in. Several departments carried water to firefighters since the hydrants couldn't keep up says Spencer, Class of '82.
"We've had some trouble with the fire hydrant line to the time being all looped together. So, when everybody's sucking water from everybody, nobody's getting enough pressure," he says. "It's still kind of sad to see your alma mater disappear."
The school closed more than twenty years ago. Yet, graduates came back to look and to remember.
"Old memories came back from high school, where you went to high school, everything that comes along with it," says Linder. "All your classmates and where you played basketball and baseball."
And those memories are all that they have now that their alma mater is gone.
"I wish it wouldn't have happened this way," says Linder.
Grayville Mayor Joe Bisch says the town was in the process of getting a brownfield grant for the site when the fire happened. A feasibility study was supposed to start later this year. He adds he didn't know how the fire would affect the process.