Long Eaton primary school fire 'was accidental'

Media caption,
Videos show extent of Long Eaton junior school fire

A blaze that destroyed a school started accidentally during refurbishment work, a fire service has said.

Harrington Junior School, in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, was gutted in the fire on Thursday afternoon.

No children were inside at the time and everyone got out safely, with two firefighters treated for minor burns.

A spokeswoman for Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said the fire was "most likely caused by hot works taking place on site" as part of the refurbishment.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The school was evacuated and everyone was accounted for

A school statement said: "[It] has been an extremely difficult day.

"We cannot thank [the emergency services] enough for their work and efforts in trying to save our school. But, it is with regret, that this has not been possible."

It added that staff were "devastated" and "kind messages of support and generous gifts... have been touching".

A fundraiser for staff and pupils has raised more than £1,500.

Image source, DFRS
Image caption,
Firefighters said they tried "really hard" to save the school but the blaze had taken hold

Ann Breen, whose son, Adam, is a pupil in Year 3, said: "I was heartbroken when I heard about it. I could see the smoke from my house as I only live a couple of streets away.

"My son was really looking forward to being back at school with his friends and teachers. He had been attending during lockdown and had been there on Wednesday."

Naomi Platkiw's two children had attended the school and said they were "devastated" to see the fire.

"All the memories are there, all the artwork is on the walls and people's hearts and souls are there," she said.

"Some of the staff have worked there for years, and just the outcry from parents and people within the community who have been there themselves shows what a huge loss it is."

Image source, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption,
The fire service said the blaze had been accidental during refurbishment works at the school

Dean Gazzard, from the fire service, said: "Workers carrying out the refurbishment of the school did everything they could to contain the fire and prevent its spread before the arrival of firefighters.

"Fire crews worked in extreme heat and challenging conditions, but despite everyone's efforts, the school was totally destroyed by the rapidly spreading fire."

Derbyshire County Council said it was "looking at where the children will be taught in the short term".

A spokeswoman added: "We're now in the process of meetings with fire officers, surveyors and health and safety officers on site and their findings will help us to start planning and make alternative arrangements for the next few weeks."

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