The only school in the village of Kaktovik on Alaska's North Slope was severely damaged by fire overnight, according to the North Slope Borough School District's Facebook page.
"Everyone has been evacuated and support from fire department is on site and working hard to contain the fire," the early morning post said. No injuries have been reported.
According to the National Weather Service, it is minus 34 in Kaktovik this morning, with winds of about 15 mph for a wind chill of about minus 64.
Several Kaktovik residents shared photos of the fire on social media. One resident said firefighting equipment and hoses keep freezing. A recently constructed $16 million gym has burned and the fire is spreading to the school. Video shows the flames rising high above the school roof, fanned by the winds.
Update on Kaktovik school fire. 02/07/2020 7am. Just received word from our Mayor that our school is a total loss. It is still burning down, and the hoses keep freezing up. This fire has completely burned down our whole school building. Sad day for Kaktovik. pic.twitter.com/uzVPQQeBAR— .*. katzyn .*. (@katzyn) February 7, 2020
The village of about 265 mostly Inupiat residents is located on Barter Island, 90 miles west of the Canadian border and on the northern edge of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
In Alaska's villages, the schools are a hub of social life and are an important community gathering place. Kaktovik's Harold Kaveolook School offers education from preschool through grade 12 and adult basic education, according to the borough website.
North Slope Borough Mayor Harry K. Brower Jr. released a statement this morning, noting that firefighters are still on scene and the cause of the fire has not been determined.
He called the fire a tragedy for the village, which has about 250 residents.
“Currently, we do not know the cause of the fire but we do know the school was evacuated quickly,” Brower said in a statement.
"Like in all our villages, the school plays a central role for many," Brower stated. "It's not just where our students go to learn and play sports, but is a gathering place for town activities and community events, senior citizen lunches, and a place for exercise and social gathering of many kinds."
This story will be updated.