Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Woodmill High School fire: Community rallies round after Dunfermline blaze

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Media captionMore than 80 firefighters were involved in tackling the blaze

A community in Fife has been rallying round after a devastating fire at a Dunfermline high school.

More than 1,400 children have been displaced following the blaze at Woodmill High School on Sunday.

Locals have raised £6,000 by crowd funding to help replace damaged equipment and the Visit Dunfermline Facebook page said it had been inundated by offers of practical help.

A 14-year-old boy is due to appear at Dunfermline Sheriff Court later.

Support centres providing free school meals to Woodmill High School pupils have been set up across Dunfermline.

A local martial arts gym is also opening to pupils affected by the closure of the school.

Iain Feenan, who runs Fu Dog with his father, said it was important to give the children something to do and a place to meet while their school was shut.

Image caption Woodmill High School has been ravaged by the fire

Fay Sinclair, convener of Fife Council's education and children's services committee, said planning had begun into how to accommodate the 1,400 displaced pupils.

She said: "Dunfermline has seen a lot of house building in recent years and that has had an impact on the capacity of our schools.

"The schools are all very full so there is not a nearby immediate solution of an empty building for example.

"But there are a number of things being looked at.

"A number of neighbouring local authorities have also offered some support, in particular we are looking to get something in place as soon as possible for those pupils from the department of additional needs."

Image caption Woodmill High School is currently closed

Kelly Elliot, who has two children at the school including one who attends the department of additional needs, said: "It is a lifeline for our special children who attend that unit.

"My son has very complex needs, he can't just go anywhere else, he's in a wheelchair full-time, he's registered blind, he has learning disabilities, it's not just a case of relocating him anywhere.

"There's just not enough places in the area for our mainstream pupils in the area let alone children in additional support."

She said she had to take her son to see the damage for himself in order for him to process it.

"He just keeps making crackling noises because that's what he heard when the roof was caving in, which is distressing as a parent as I don't want him to have that as a lasting memory of the unit when we have so many special memories," she said.

Image copyright Euans_EP
Image caption More than 80 firefighters worked through the night at Woodmill High School

She added: "We are absolutely devastated by what's happened, all his equipment has gone, it is going to take so much time to plan where all these children will go."

Her younger son, aged 12, had just started at the school and had been settling in well.

"My husband works full time and I'm due to go back to my student education next week, which I may not be able to do because we are all sat at home waiting to see what is going to happen now," she said.

James Calder, Lib Dem councillor for Dunfermline South, said: "This is devastating for the community.

"Our big concern is school capacity and how the council is going to deal with it.

"The children are at a key point in their lives at school. We need to minimise disruption and get pupils back in the classroom as it is a huge stress for them.

"It is an incredibly major challenge."

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