REXBURG, Idaho — Ricks College's historic Jacob Spori Building — in the process of demolition — was destroyed Nov. 29 by an unintentional fire that started while demolition crews were attempting to pull the building down.

The building was found to be unsafe earlier in the year and scheduled to be leveled.

Construction crews from R.E. Beck Construction in nearby Shelley, Idaho, attached cables to the back of the building around midnight to begin pulling it down as scheduled, but the building would not budge. Around 2:55 a.m., sparks from the cables scraping against rocks on the outside of the building started a fire, according to a Rexburg City policeman.

"When we got here, the fire wasn't big, and it was far enough in the rubble that we couldn't get water to it," said Dave Davis, assistant fire chief for the Rexburg Fire Department. "Our main concern was other buildings close by, but we contained the fire and just let it burn."

There were no injuries.

Ricks College administration canceled morning classes in the George S. Romney and the Eliza R. Snow buildings, those closest to the Spori building, because of concern about possible electrical and smoke hazards.

It took several hours for construction crews to pull down the freestanding walls of the building. Workers used a bulldozer to slowly knock down walls while flames continued inside the building and came out the windows.

Teachers and students who spent hours studying and teaching in the Spori building were surprised by the news that morning that fire and bulldozers had leveled the building.

"It will be a shock for the community," said Robyn Bergstrom, a communications teacher who taught in the Spori building, as she watched the flames burning out of the three-story building. "I almost feel better having it go in flames rather than being torn down. It's like a cleansing. I feel better."

The Spori building was the first building on the Ricks College campus. It was built in 1903 and was the only building remaining from when the college was known as Ricks Academy.

Through the years, it has been used as the library and to house the administration offices. Its latest use was to house the Communications Department and the Scroll, the student newspaper, and two radio stations, as well as the Art Department.