Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Saturday, 18 October 2008 16:54 UK

Massive fire 'devastates' school

Carleton High School after the fire
Around 150 firefighters tackled the blaze on Saturday morning

A high school in Pontefract has been "devastated" after a huge fire ripped through parts of the site.

Around 150 fire fighters and 25 fire engines tackled the blaze at Carleton High School on Green Lane, which broke out early on Saturday.

The fire at the 970-pupil school damaged the library, drama studio, gym, reception and administration block and 120 computers in the IT suite.

The fire service called it the area's "biggest fire in the past two years".

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

This has devastated the school... but we will ensure the children's education is not affected
Rob Foreman, head teacher

Fire fighters are still at the scene extinguishing the last flames.

Steve Rhodes, incident commander, said: "This is a massive loss of school. The impact on staff and students will be huge.

"It was huge... but we worked with the teachers at the scene who prioritised which areas should be salvaged. If not, the whole thing could have been lost."

The main teaching block was saved but the extent of the damage will not be known until structural engineers go on site later.

The site will be closed until 3 November at the earliest.

Head teacher Rob Foreman said the school and Wakefield Metropolitan District Council were trying to make alternative teaching arrangements for the children next week.

Mr Foreman told BBC News: "This has devastated the school, it is not good but we will ensure the children's education is not affected.

"We are looking at all options, for the pupils to go to other schools or community centres."

On Monday teachers will begin the task of identifying what work has been lost, particularly pupils coursework, he said.




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