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Devastating Fire Engulfs Career Technology Center in Forest Acres


In a harrowing incident that occurred overnight, a raging fire has caused extensive damage to the Forest Acres Career Technology Center. The inferno, which broke out in the early hours of May 31, 2024, has left the building in ruins and has severely impacted the educational opportunities it provided to the community.

Initial Reports and Emergency Response

First responders were alerted to the blaze at approximately 2:15 AM by numerous emergency calls from concerned residents. Upon arrival at the scene, firefighters encountered a fully engulfed structure, with flames shooting through the roof of the building.

The Forest Acres Fire Department swiftly mobilized its resources, deploying multiple fire engines and personnel to combat the escalating inferno. Neighboring fire departments from Columbia, West Columbia, and Cayce also provided assistance, forming a formidable team to quell the flames.

Extent of Damage and Emergency Measures

The fire ravaged the building, causing significant structural damage and destroying classrooms, workshops, and equipment. The flames consumed portions of the roof and charred the exterior walls, leaving the once-vibrant facility a gutted shell.

Immediate evacuations were ordered, with all students and staff safely exiting the building. The American Red Cross established a shelter at the Forest Lake Club, providing support and assistance to those affected by the fire.

Cause of the Fire and Investigation

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division's Arson Investigation Unit. Authorities have not yet released any official findings, but are actively pursuing leads and examining the scene for potential clues.

Impact on Educational Programs

The Forest Acres Career Technology Center played a crucial role in providing vocational and technical training to students in the Midlands region. With its destruction, hundreds of students will be temporarily displaced, impacting their ability to pursue their educational goals.

The center offered a diverse range of programs, including automotive technology, construction, culinary arts, health sciences, and information technology. These programs provided students with hands-on experience and industry-recognized certifications, equipping them for success in various career fields.

Community Response and Support

The news of the fire has deeply saddened the Forest Acres community and beyond. Residents have expressed their sympathy and offered support to the students, staff, and administrators affected by this tragedy.

Local businesses have pledged to assist in any way possible, providing resources and support to the recovery efforts. The Lexington County School District has also activated its emergency response plan, working closely with the community to minimize the disruption to students' education.

Long-Term Recovery and Rebuilding

The rebuilding process is expected to be a lengthy and complex undertaking. The Lexington County School District is currently assessing the damage and exploring options to provide alternative learning spaces for displaced students.

The community is rallying together to support the recovery efforts, with local organizations and individuals pledging financial assistance and volunteers to help in any way they can. The long-term goal is to restore the Career Technology Center as a vibrant educational hub, ensuring that future generations of students can benefit from its exceptional training programs.

Additional Information and Resources

  • The American Red Cross is providing support and assistance to those affected by the fire. For more information or to make a donation, visit their website:

  • The Lexington County School District has established a hotline for updates and information: (803) 476-3647.

  • The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is actively investigating the cause of the fire. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Arson Investigation Unit at (800) 670-8205.

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