Devastated parents and pupils in tears as school ‘burns to the ground’ in huge blaze

Despite the efforts of 50 fire fighters a large part of Ash Green Primary school in Halifax, West Yorkshire was destroyed following a large blaze on Tuesday night

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Derek Barlow on the devastating Ash Green school fire

Much of a primary school has been reduced to ash after a huge fire burned it to the ground.

Parents and pupils have been left “devastated” and “in tears” following the devastating blaze at Ash Green Primary school in Halifax, West Yorkshire on Tuesday night.

Fifty firefighters battled to control the inferno, but they were unable to save the school’s roof, Yorkshire Live reported.

A 19-year-old man, who was found at the scene by officers, remains in custody after being arrested on suspicion of arson.

The man was also taken to hospital for treatment on Tuesday.

Gazing upon the destruction on Wednesday, parents whose children currently attend the school and former pupils spoke of how the fire has devastated a whole community.

Ex-pupil Valerija Balinskaite, 18, said she broke down after hearing the news.







A roof of one of the buildings was completely destroyed
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Image:

Huddersfield Examiner)

“I was in tears,” she said.

“It was awful. I live just a five minutes’ walk from the school. I saw a video of the fire and it just broke me. I have so many happy memories from the school.”

Grace Berry, whose seven-year-old daughter attends the school, said: “It is just devastating for the community.

“It is devastating for the kids and teachers to wake up to these circumstances.

“But it is a strong community and I am sure it will pull together and pull through – these things tend to bring people together.”

Derek Barlow said the school is widely considered as “iconic” in the local area, and many of the people living nearby graced its hallways when they were younger.

“My wife went there and I have had two children who have been to this school,” he said. “It was a bit gut-wrenching watching it last night.

“My wife was sending me photos of it (the fire). She was very upset about it and the community is very upset about it, actually.

“The community is absolutely devastated about it – this school is iconic.”







Headteacher Mungo Shepherd said he did not know when teachers and pupils would be allowed back in
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Huddersfield Examiner/MEN Media)

Headteacher Mr Mungo Sheppard said that emergency services had managed to save “quite a bit” of the building.

“I have no idea how quickly we can get back in,” he continued.

“We have completely lost four classrooms for our year 3, 4, 5 and 6 children. The direct fire damage has spread no further than that, so we have been able to save quite a lot of our school.

“It is devastating for these children. They are in tears because they can’t come to school today and they do not know what they are going to come back to.”

Mr Sheppard added that some children may have to be educated at other sites while repair work takes place at the school.

Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift, said: “It was heartbreaking to hear the news yesterday evening about the fire at Ash Green Community Primary School.







Grace Berry said the community was “devastated”
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Image:

Huddersfield Examiner/MEN Media)

“My thoughts are with all the staff, parents and of course the pupils who usually attend this school.

“We know how much disruption our schools have faced throughout the Covid pandemic, so it’s particularly upsetting that Ash Green and the local community is now facing a further period of upheaval.

“The school is working hard to make sure children are well supported and plans are being put in place to minimise disruption for pupils as much as possible.

“We are working closely with the school to support this and to assist with the recovery process going forward.”

Ten fire engines and one aerial ladder platform were used to subdue the flames.

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police said: “Enquiries are continuing today into the fire at Ash Green Primary School in Mixenden.

“A 19-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of arson is currently in custody.”

Anyone with information about the fire should call Calderdale District CID on 101, quoting log number 1663 of February 1.

Information can also be given anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111

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