Selsey Academy: Blaze reduces West Sussex school to a skeleton

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Media captionFlames spread quickly through the school building

A major fire has reduced a secondary school in West Sussex to a skeleton.

More than 75 firefighters tackled the height of the blaze at Selsey Academy as huge plumes of black smoke spread across the town.

The fire broke out about 08:00 BST, with more than 60 calls being made to Sussex Control Centre.

The fire, now under control, could be seen clearly from Selsey Football Club, which tweeted footage of the flames.

'Like an apocalypse'

People in the vicinity were advised to stay clear of the smoke, remain inside and keep their windows closed, but crowds gathered to watch the firefighting effort.

Dr Chrissie Tizzard, who lives opposite the school, said she saw "plumes and plumes of black smoke towering above the house, rather like an apocalypse".

Image caption Firefighters from West Sussex and Hampshire fought the blaze at Selsey Academy
Image copyright West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption Large sections of the school have been destroyed by fire
Image copyright West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption Plumes of smoke spread across the town
Image copyright West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption Aerial pictures show the extent of the destruction at the school

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service sent crews to help West Sussex colleagues and South East Coast Ambulance Service was also at the scene.

Chichester District Council's building control officers assessed the safety of the structure.

Sussex Police said an officer directing traffic at the scene was taken to hospital after being hit by a Vauxhall Corsa at low speed.

His injuries are not believed to be serious.

Selsey Academy

  • Opened in September 2011 as part of the Kemnal Academies Trust
  • Formerly known as The Manhood School
  • Smaller than average mixed secondary with 453 students aged 11-16
  • Last year, 47% of GCSE students gained five or more A* to C passes including English and Maths
  • The school was rated inadequate in an Ofsted inspection in March 2013
  • A July 2014 inspection upgraded it to "requires improvement"
  • Current head teacher Tom Garfield took up his post in January 2016
  • The main building dates from the early 1960s
  • New drama and music facilities were added in 2004, a new sports hall in 2008 and new library in September 2012

Chairman of governors Bill Emerson said the school was devastated.

"There is a possibility we might be able to save a small section of the school and the emergency services are doing their best to do that," he said earlier.

"But it is amazing how quickly the fire has spread.

"It's shocking. The structures are effectively a skeleton now compared to what they were and we have still got fire raging in sections."

He said it was too early to say how the blaze began.

He added: "It's the only secondary school in the peninsula and it is going to be devastating to the community.

"There are contingency plans in place to make sure the children can pick up their GCSE results [on Thursday] and to make sure we can provide education to children when they start the school year."

Image caption Large sections of the school have been reduced to a skeleton
Image copyright West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption The library building was saved but much of the school is a smoking ruin
Image caption Crowds of onlookers gathered as the Selsey Academy fire took hold
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Selsey Football Club tweeted footage of the flames

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