Page last updated at 17:36 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 18:36 UK

Cylinder worry after school fire


Fire fighters were still waiting for a gas cylinder to cool down on the school site

People living near a school which caught fire have been warned they could be in danger after fears were raised over a gas cylinder on the site.

The fire at Archbishop McGrath Catholic High School at Tondu, Bridgend started at around 0300 BST in an arts block.

It was put out but police have warned people living in around 80 homes of the hazard of the gas cylinder.

The school will remain closed for the rest of the week until safety and damage assessments have been made.

The acting headteacher, The Reverend Dr Philip Manghan, said: "My main concern was for the safety of the children.

"I'm grateful to the fire service because the managed to contain the fire to the design and technology block. It could have spread a lot further."

The Rev Dr Philip Manghan
There's a lot of damage to the design and technology block - it is ruined
The Reverend Dr Philip Manghan

But he said the design and technology block, which has three classrooms, was "completely destroyed".

"There's a lot of damage to the design and technology block - it is ruined," he said.

"In the short term I hope local schools will be part of the solution (to help pupils get back to lessons)."

Archbishop McGrath is the main Catholic secondary school for the Bridgend area, drawing 700 pupils from as far a Porthcawl and Maesteg.

Bridgend council said the school would remain closed until further notice although damage was limited to a sports hall and an IT block.

Officials are looking at possibly allowing exam pupils to return as soon as possible next week once the school has been declared safe to use again.

Provision for pupils in other years to return to the school will be made as soon as possible.

Ynysawdre Comprehensive School, directly opposite, was given the all-clear to reopen as normal on Thursday.

Fire crews had deemed it unsafe for the school to remain open while they tackled the blaze.

Intense fire

Education cabinet member Alana Davies said: "Bridgend council is working closely with the diocese, governing bodies, headteachers and staff at both schools to minimise disruption and ensure the safety of pupils.

"Our aim now is to get the children back into their normal routines as quickly and as safely as possible."

The council said regular updates would be posted on its website.

A 200m (218yds) cordon remains in place around the site, and the A4065 Bryn Road is closed in both directions.

Eye witnesses say the arts block where the fire began remains standing, but is badly charred by flames.

Speaking from the scene, BBC Radio Wales reporter Kayley Thomas said: "You can smell there has been a fire, and there is the odd wisp of smoke just rising from the building, which is cooling down.

"The fire officer in charge has actually taken me over to the building to show me what damage has been done.

"The building is still standing but you can see that it has been heavily charred inside that building."

Ian Greenman, from South Wales Fire Service, said it had been an intense fire that had spread quickly through the roof of the art block

At the height of the fire around 40 firefighters were at the scene, with crews attending from Bridgend, Pencoed, Ponycymmer, Maesteg and Ogmore Vale.

Water bowsers from Barry and Pontypridd were also called in, along with a hydraulic platform from Cardiff and a breathing support unit from Tonypandy.

The fire service says the operation is now being scaled down, with three fire engines remaining on site.

The acetylene cylinder causing concern for the fire officers is also being cooled, after which a fire investigation will get underway.

Many, many thanks everyone for all your support. We are doing all we can to reinstate the school as soon as possible. Visit the BCBC website for more news.

Rev Dr Philip Manghan, Headteacher


sorry for all the year 11's that have done + lost GCSE work for Art + Technology.

glad no one was hurt + hope some work will be alright.

Kirsty & Jordan, Penyfai

I feel really bad for the year 11s that have lost their coursework i hope we can all go back there and dont have to be separated out to other schools
Dan, Bridgend

When i was told i thought it was a joke but then i kept on getting phone calls off my mates!!! i got worried about my friends that live near the school but i glad too say my mates are all fine
Georgia, Bridgend, South Wales

I heard about it from a friend, she text me to say Archbishop was on fire. At first i didn't believe her until i heard to story on the local news. I was honestly shocked! You hear about it all the time with other schools but you never think it will happen to the school you go to. Now it has and what do we do now ???
Bethan Williams, Penyfai , Bridgend

So shocked, was halfway out the door when we saw the smoke and now half our school is gone! I hope we don't have to move schools coz archies is pretty kool
Ronan, Tondu, Bridgend, South Wales,

I was so shocked when my mother told me, I didn't know weather to believe her or not! cant believe some idiot would do it, what's the point like! I hope it all gets sorted soon so we can all go back to school!
Gemma Hopkins, Bettws

We both attend Archbishop McGrath School and we're completely shocked and devastated by this! How could someone do this to our school? Art coursework has been completely destroyed after all that hard work, and the tech room's have equipment worth so much money! Our school doesn't need this right now :/ Dr Manghan we're all behind you (Y) and we know you'll pull us through this (:
Emily & Hannah, Bryncethin, Tondu, Bridgend.

I had no idea what went on last night until I saw my bus drive past, I stood in the middle of the road wondering why he had gone when he turned around then bus driver told me about the school first I thought he was joking and then on TV it said about the school i'm glad it wasn't the music block because it coule have burned £1,000 worth of instruments.
Caroline, Ogmore Vale

When I found out the school was on fire i thought my mates were having a laugh but then i heard it on the bbc news and was shocked to hear it was true! I feel very sorry for the yr11's that had course work in the burnt rooms! I hope the school isn't bad because i want to go back to see the great mates i have there.
Bethan , Maesteg, South Wales

When I first heard about it, i thought it was some kind of a joke but when I heard it on bridge FM i was so shocked, i felt like crying. I've spent the past two years in this school and made some amazing friends there. If we have to move schools, we won't all go to the same one and it just won't be the same without archbishop mc grath :( It's only when you lose something, you realise how much you loved it. I really hope we'll get our school back. :(
Kamila, Brackla, South Wales

When my brother came shouting in my room saying the school was on fire, I turned on the t.v and I couldn't believe it. I felt sick at the thought. We went down to see how badly damaged the school was but they wouldn't let us through due to the gas cylinders. I could see fire fighters everywhere and smoke. It is devastating. I hope it gets sorted out soon!
Daniella, Bridgend

I was really shocked when I heard the news, only having been back two weeks. My sister only started comprehensive this year, I'm just glad no body was hurt.
Louise, Bridgend, South Wales

I'm shocked...I hope we will get back soon to school...I don't want to go to another school

Kordian, Bridgend

When I was told my school was on fire I thought it was a stupid joke. Now I heard it on the news and radio station's and it's unbelievable.

This is terrible for any GCSE and A level design and technology students though because their work will have been destroyed.

Thankfully it happened in the early hours of the morning so no one got hurt.

Elora, Aberkenfig, Bridgend

It's my new school, and it's just a devastating incident that's happened. I really hope it gets cleared up and we can go back. I'm gutted.
Natalie Lang, Bryncethin, South Wales

This is so sad, i heard from a text, then turned on BBC1 and heard the news, it's just so sad, i just fell so sorry for the Art and Tech A level and GCSE pupils who hard work could be ruined.
Peggey, Bryncethin

I go to Archbishop. I am so shocked, we just started back. I am happy no one was hurt.
Kiera, Bridgend

I'm so heartbroken, the school meant everything to me, I felt like crying when I found out, I just wish there was something I could have done to help.
Nathan Griffiths, Maesteg, southwales

Someone phoned and told me that the school had been burned down. At first I thought it was a joke but then I heard it on bridge FM. I hope they do something about this. It's so a shame because if it was in the art rooms then it might have burnt the grand piano too.
Connie, Aberkenfig, South Wales

Very shocking indeed.

But the plans were for Archbishop to be knocked down and moved to Brackla in the end anyway.

Burz, Aberkenfig

Im devastated to hear whats happend, i attend archbishop MG 6th form, All of my art course work and my exam peice was still in the building, all hard work and now nothing to show for it!!! Plus, didnt just the lazer cut on its own cost £10,000 ?
Daisy, Sarn, Bridgend, South Wales

Many, many thanks everyone for all your support. We are doing all we can to reinstate the school as soon as possible.
Rev Dr Philip Manghan

When they told us our school was on fire i was shocked, if they dont rebuild it we will have to move schools!
Alex, Bridgend, South wales

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