Classroom inferno ‘was sparked by clay oven’
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