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May 25, 2014 09:55 PM

Hoven Loses High School To Fire

A small-town in North Central South Dakota is in shock after a fire destroyed the high school in Hoven.

Crews are hard at work hours after a fire turned the Hoven High School into rubble, and the community is trying to pick up the pieces.

"Lots of tears this morning," Superintendent Peggy Petersen said.

Sam Ruckman responded to the call around 1:00 a.m. and battled the blaze for over eight hours. In his five years of volunteering in Hoven, he's never dealt with a fire of this magnitude.

"We opened the door to the gymnasium, me and another firefighter and we were down as low as we could get and crawled trying to make an entrance in there and it was just too hot to stay in there. It was unbearable, even with our fire gear and SCBAs on and everything. We tried," Sam Ruckman said.

The flames took the high school that has stood in Hoven since the early 1940's. The blaze didn't just destroy the building, but a pillar in the community.

"It's just been devastating loss for our community. Lots of memories in that old building," Petersen said.
"It means everything. I mean everything kind of centers around this for the school year, and sports and everything so it's just, it's going to be tough," Ruckman said.

Although the morning fire has left residents of the small town heartbroken, the community believes it will rally around this tragic event.

"I've never lived in a community like this before in my life. They'll pull together and stay strong. It'll work out," Ruckman said.

"They're wonderful. You can sure tell by all of the farmers that brought their water trucks into town just to help. We had a lady that brought sandwiches. She went home; she got sandwiches and fed the firefighters. Everybody's pitching in," Petersen said.

There is no set plan in place for a new home for the students. There are discussions the old hospital building that currently sits empty, could hold classes until a permanent solution is found.

Until then, Hoven residents will only be able to remember the school that has played a big role in a small town.

No one was hurt in the fire. Students were out of class for the summer last Wednesday. There are about 55 students who attend the school.

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