Felsted School damaged by fire

Fire crews arrived to find the roof of the boarding block ablaze

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A public school in Essex has been badly damaged by a fire tackled by more than 40 firefighters.

The fire started in the roof and first floor of a girls' boarding house at Felsted School, near Great Dunmow, on Sunday evening and rapidly spread.

The fire service said it had to battle a poor water supply and it was "simply too dangerous" to send crews inside. No-one was injured.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is under way.

Fire engines had to leave the site and bring water back on tanks carried on the vehicles, and pump water from a lake.

'Extremely hard'

The school term had ended but about 25 students and staff from a summer school were on site and managed to leave the building before crews arrived.

The fire was contained by 23:40 BST and the operation scaled back at 03:00 BST, when the building was still smouldering.

Speaking on Sunday night, Divisional Officer Ray Skinner said firefighters worked "extremely hard" in difficult conditions, with the fire well alight and spreading when they arrived at 19:00 BST.

They were "hampered throughout" by a poor water supply, with the lake situated half a mile away, he added.

Deputy head Chris Townsend thanked Essex fire service for their "prompt action" at Follyfield House.

"The damage will be assessed over the coming days and parents, pupils and staff will be kept informed of any subsequent arrangements before the start of term," he added.

"We intend to ensure that school will be open as usual in September."

The school has day and boarding boys and girls, aged four to 18.

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