A large fire broke out Tuesday night in an abandoned building that was once Brown Elementary School, near the corner of 12th Street and Highland Avenue in the city’s northeastern section. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The fire started shortly before 8 p.m. at the six-acre site across the street from Shiloh Baptist Church, neighbors said. Fire officials said the building is currently owned by the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem, though neighbors said it was used several years ago as a day-care center. The name SBC Complex was still visible on the exterior of the structure.

Heavy flames were coming from the second floor of the brick building when firefighters arrived, said Jay Walsh, a division fire chief for the Winston-Salem Fire Department.

The department sent three ladder fire trucks to the site to help control the fire. Firefighters used five fire hydrants to provide enough water to put out the fire. Each ladder truck used 800 to 1,000 gallons of water a minute to control the flames, Walsh said.

More than 50 firefighters responded to the scene, he said.

“Looking at the scope of the fire, we are going to be out here for quite a long time,” Walsh said around 9:30 p.m. “Once we get the fire out, we need to search the building to make sure we don’t find anyone inside the building.”

After the fire is extinguished, investigators will try to determine how it started, Walsh said.

Brown Elementary School was built in several stages between 1919 and 1995. The school closed to students in 1984.

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jhinton@wsjournal.com (336) 727-7299 @jhintonWSJ

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