Dec 27 2012 By Cheryl Mullin
DOZENS of firefighters from across the South West are tackling a blaze at a school in Dorset.
Around 55 emergency service members were called to Lytchett Minster Upper School shortly after 7am this morning.
Dave Arundel, Christchurch fire station commander, said it was the worst school fire in the area in living memory.
Speaking from the scene of the blaze, he said: “This is probably the largest school fire of its kind we’ve had to deal with.
“There are dozens of firefighters on scene, and they will be here for some considerable time yet.
”The fire is believed to have started in the school roof, and has since engulfed the whole of the first floor and part of the ground floor.
Mr Arundel said: “Firefighters initially tried to gain access to the building, but they realised the fire was above them and so they couldn’t.
“The cause of the fire is as yet unknown, but we believe it started in the roof and has then spread quite quickly.”
Additional crews from Hampshire have also been called in, with firefighters expected to remain on site until at least tomorrow.Mr Arundel added: “This is a large fire, which will take a long time to deal with and make safe.”
In a cruel twist of fate, the school was only recently fully reopened after a £12 million rebuild following a fire in 2000.
Staff and pupils had been working in temporary buildings after the original school building was ripped apart by the blaze at the turn of the millennium.
Mr Arundel said he feared another rebuild will be necessary once the full impact of today’s blaze is realised.
He said: “In my professional opinion, children and staff will not be able to return to this building.
“We are still working on it, so we don’t know the full extent of the damage.“We are waiting to see if any sections of the building have collapsed, but I don’t believe it to be structurally sound.”