A fire Friday morning on the Knoxville College campus is the latest in a handful of similar troubles this year.

Crews contained the flames to one building - the Robert H. Harvey College Center - and nobody was hurt.

Knoxville College, a 140-year-old historically black college, suspended classes indefinitely last year. At the time, the college had only 11 students enrolled.

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Now, its buildings stand boarded up, without electricity and unused.

"If you have a structure and you're not able to maintain it, then it becomes a threat to citizens, to firefighters, to everybody," Capt. D.J. Corcoran with the Knoxville Fire Department said Friday morning.

Friday morning's fire was possibly started, Corcoran said, when somebody broke in and lit a fire in order to stay warm. Arson investigators will examine the scene to try and determine exactly what happened.

"The city's done what they can do to board it up and keep something like this from happening, but we don't have 24-hour surveillance on this area," Corcoran said.

Knoxville College Board of trustees chairman James Reese said the school has done all it's been asked in terms of boarding up and securing buildings.

He said he plans on calling a meeting with trustees for Monday to discuss this latest fire.

Knoxville College lost its accreditation in 1997, but alumni remember its positive impact, providing higher education for African Americans dating back to 1875.

Still, it has faced a string of issues in recent years.

In 2014, the EPA stepped in when officials discovered hazardous chemicals left behind in the unused A.K. Stewart building. Currently, authorities are considering adding the science hall to the state's environmental superfund list, due to evidence of continued contamination.

The city of Knoxville calls more than a dozen buildings throughout campus as "unfit for human habitation."

RELATED: Knoxville College faces emergency repair orders from city

In 2016 alone, fire officials have responded to an estimated four or five fires in unused campus buildings. Corcoran estimated KFD has responded to fires on campus between 20 and 30 times since the buildings have fallen in disuse and disrepair.

"This has sat kind of stagnant for several years, and it's not much good to a lot of people," he said.

As the weather gets cooler, fire officials anticipate getting more calls like this - not only on the Knoxville College campus but throughout the community, as people break into buildings that are empty or abandoned just to stay warm.


A Knoxville Fire Department spokesperson said crews extinguished a fire at a Knoxville College building on Friday morning.

Crews worked to put out the fire at the Robert H. Harvey College Center around 11 a.m. Friday.

KFD spokesperson D.J. Corcoran said the building was boarded with no power, but authorities think there was someone inside who was careless.

"If you have a structure and you're not able to maintain it, then it becomes a threat to the citizens, to the firefighters, to everybody," Corcoran said.

Authorities will conduct an arson investigation.

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