Class­room in­ferno ‘was sparked by clay oven’

Scottish Daily Mail - - The Brexmas Election - By Amelia Clarke

HUN­DREDS of pupils fled their school yes­ter­day amid a fire – sus­pected to have been sparked by a blast in the art de­part­ment.

The blaze, which ripped through Pee­bles High School just after lunchtime, caused part of the roof to col­lapse.

More than 40 fire­fight­ers tack­led the flames. The Scot­tish Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice (SFRS) said all pupils and staff were ac­counted for after the premises had been ‘fully evac­u­ated’.

Last night, ed­u­ca­tion chiefs said the school would re­main closed to­day while the full ex­tent of the dam­age was as­sessed and the clean-up con­tin­ued.

One par­ent said: ‘From what I have been told there has been some sort of an ex­plo­sion in a clay oven in the art de­part­ment.

‘The main thing is that ev­ery­one ap­pears to be OK.’

Pupils were seen wrapped in foil blan­kets as the school was evac­u­ated, while an­other pic­ture showed a huge plume of black smoke spread­ing across the Borders town.

Scot­tish Borders Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Tracey Lo­gan said: ‘We have taken the early de­ci­sion that the school will be closed to­mor­row [Fri­day] and ob­vi­ously also the St An­drew’s Day hol­i­day on Mon­day. We will li­aise with SFRS to as­cer­tain the ex­tent of the dam­age with a view to de­ter­min­ing when the school can re­open and/or al­ter­na­tive ar­range­ments.’

A spokesman for the SFRS de­scribed the blaze as ‘se­vere’.

Con­ser­va­tive MSP for South Scot­land, Michelle Bal­lan­tyne, said the fire was ‘dev­as­tat­ing’, adding: ‘I’m re­lieved to hear that so far there have been no ca­su­al­ties. My thoughts are with the stu­dents and staff.’

Evac­u­ated: Pupils watch pall of smoke, above, be­fore leav­ing wrapped in foil blan­kets

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