Ten fire crews tackle Coed Eva Cwmbran school blaze

Media caption,
Footage of the fire and head teacher Gill Ellis gives her reaction

An investigation is under way into a fire which destroyed an infants and nursery school in Cwmbran early on New Year's Day.

Ten fire crews fought through the night to stop it spreading to the adjoining juniors' building at Coed Eva school.

South Wales Fire and Rescue said they were called to a fire in a single storey school building at 02:27 GMT.

Head teacher Gill Ellis said they were devastated but would do all they could to get the school up and running again.

The fire service said the building was destroyed within 20 minutes and it took three hours to bring the "rapidly developing fire" under control using three water bowsers and an aerial platform.

It was too early to identify the cause, the fire service added.

Local residents were advised to keep doors and windows closed at the height of the fire.

Media caption,
Parents said they were devastated by the fire

Parents and pupils, many in tears, surveyed the damage during the morning.

Kelly Steer, who has a daughter at the school, said they were devastated.

"I'm absolutely shocked, it's a fantastic school," she said.

The community school teaches more than 500 pupils, including 200 in the infants and nursery section.

Mrs Ellis said it had been "devastating" to see the damage.

Image source, Torfaen Council
Image source, BBC/Guto Orwig
Image caption,
The burnt-out classroom on Friday morning
Image source, Ben Black/Cwmbran Life

The whole school will be closed on Monday and Tuesday but staff will be looking to see if the infants and nursery pupils can be accommodated in the junior building.

"The main priority is to get the school back to normal as soon as possible. I'd like to say a big thank you to all the well wishers for their support," said Mrs Ellis.

"It's just a building at the end of the day - Coed Eva Primary School has a huge personality and we can overcome this and look for the best way forward for everybody."

Insp David Morgan of Gwent Police added: "There's a joint criminal investigation and we're following a number of lines of inquiry but the important thing is to establish the cause and exactly where the fire started".

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