The Post

Tears as blaze engulfs intermedia­te

- HELEN HARVEY

POLICE and the fire service will join forces to investigat­e the cause of a fire at Hawera Intermedia­te School yesterday morning.

The blaze destroyed 10 classrooms in a double-storey block, the library and the hall. Four classrooms, the technology block and the administra­tion area were undamaged. No one was hurt in the fire.

About 8.30am an emotional principal Craig Simpson linked arms with staff, parents and board of trustees members for a karakia at the school gates as the school burned.

Hawera chief

fire

officer Mike Fairweathe­r said it was hard to say whether there was more than one fire. Nor would he say if he thought it was arson.

The fire service was called out at 5.50am. ‘‘It was reasonably still at that hour of the morning, but with a dry wooden building full of schoolbook­s and papers it didn’t take long for the little bit of wind we did have to fan it down the three blocks.’’

It took about two hours to get the fire under control, Fairweathe­r said. Thirteen fire engines and 48 firefighte­rs, from South Taranaki, New Plymouth and Whanganui, attended the blaze.

The fire sirens were heard all around Hawera and by 6am a large crowd had gathered outside the school, which has a roll of 333..

Simpson said he was called at 6.30am and immediatel­y drove the 40km to Hawera from his home in Opunake.

‘‘My reaction on the way – a good cry at Manaia helped. Schools are very emotional places and you not only lose the buildings but you lose the interactio­ns that go on.’’

Board of trustees chairman Mark Crawshaw said children might be able to return to school by the end of the week, but he did not yet know what schools they would return to. He would be talking to the Ministry of Education to put a contingenc­y plan in place.

 ??  ?? Ten classrooms were destroyed in the fire at Hawera Intermedia­te School.
Ten classrooms were destroyed in the fire at Hawera Intermedia­te School.

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