Usually when you see smoke and flames consume a house it’s a bad thing. The fire on Saturday morning in Pima was anything but.

The house was torched by the Pima Volunteer Fire Department to make way for the expansion of Discovery Plus Academy on West 250 North Street in Pima.

After years of saving money for the expansion of their facilities, the charter school took the first step by clearing property with the help of the fire department. A new building will be constructed and the old building will be demolished to make a parking lot.

DeeAnn Williams, academy director, said her teachers are excited about teaching in bigger rooms once the new building is completed. The official plans have not been drafted, but the teachers will be involved in the planning stages, Williams said.

It will be a year or so before the construction of the building can begin. The school has owned the land and building for almost two years.

Because the Town of Pima was willing to burn down the home for free, Williams estimated the town is saving the school $10,000 to $12,000. Because the building is brick, she said there will still be a lot of rubble left behind after the burn which will cost about $3,000 to have removed.

The K-5 school’s population has increased significantly over the last few years, she said.

“We used to have 70 to 80 students enrolled, now we have about 115 to 120 students and we’ve met our cap a few times,” said Williams. “We’re excited. Ten years ago we wouldn’t have thought this was possible.”

The academy was chartered in the late ‘80s by Leola Hinton and has an emphasis in fine art, Williams said. Fifty children were enrolled in the beginning.

The original founders of the school probably never dreamed the school would grow so much, she said.

Pima Fire Department Chief Scott Howell said school officials hoped the fire department would be able to use the building for training purposes.

“This is something they have talked about it for a long time. We’ve planned it a few times but it’s gotten postponed. But we’re finally here today and we’re glad it’s happening,” said Howell. “The training we’re doing is setting up hose lines and setting up the trucks.”

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