[tweetable alt=””]Williams Hall on the Raymond Campus of Hinds Community College caught fire late Monday afternoon, Aug. 1,[/tweetable] heavily damaging one wing with fire and the second wing of the L-shaped building with smoke and water.

Only Reggie Dillon, track coach and assistant football coach, who is the hall director at Williams Hall, and an assistant coach on the second floor have been living in the residence hall between semesters but five student residence assistants (R.A.s) and a band student had just begun moving in. Some football players had also temporarily stored belongings in the residence hall.Williams residence hall_web

During the school year the residence hall houses about 70 football players, 25 track runners, some band students, plus managers and trainers, for a total of about 136 students.

The two coaches and six students stayed at nearby Eagle Ridge Conference Center, owned by the college, Monday night. The students were provided gift cards and some clothing from the college’s Single Stop office, which helps link needy students with resources.

Classes begin Aug. 15, but football players, band members and Hi-Steppers are beginning to arrive on campus this week for practice. All residence hall space, about 1,505 beds, on the Raymond Campus has been booked.Williams residence hall 3_web

The immediate priority is figuring out where the displaced students will be temporarily placed. After classes begin, some reserved residence hall space Williams residence hall 2_web

is likely to free up when students make other plans, said DeAndre House, district director of Housing.

No cause has been officially determined but Joey Jamison, Hinds Community College District Emergency Management coordinator, said fire investigators are expected to be on campus today.

Jamison said the college put out an “all-call” to the 12 surrounding fire departments. “We got here and knew we needed help,” he said.

Among the fire departments responding were Raymond, Hinds County, Byram, Learned, Crossroads, Utica, Pocahontas and Clinton. Joining Hinds’ Raymond Campus Police Department were Jackson State University Emergency Management, Hinds County Emergency Operations, Hinds County Sheriff, Raymond Police Department and AMR.

Clinton fireman Kentress Hampton, who played football at Hinds in 1992-1994, said the Clinton Fire Department was happy to help.

“It’s a brotherhood. We help each other out any way we can,” he said. “I knew Reggie Dillon. A lot of people who are here now, I remember them.”

The last major Hinds Community College fire was in March 1998 when Cain Hall, the flagship building on the Raymond Campus, was destroyed by fire. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 72-year-old, 32,985 sq. ft. building was at the time one of the two oldest remaining structures on the campus. After a successful fundraising campaign it was rebuilt as Cain-Cochran Hall.

Anyone wishing to help the students and two coaches who lost their belongings are invited to contribute to the Williams Hall Fund through the Hinds Community College Foundation, which will be used for that purpose, or donate gift cards to the individuals. Items such as clothing or furniture are not being sought at this time. Checks can be mailed to Hinds Community College Foundation, Williams Hall Fund, P.O. Box 1100, Raymond, Miss. 39154.





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