Wales

Fire destroys valleys' infants school

An investigation is under way into a fire which destroyed an infants school in the Cynon Valley overnight.

The fire broke out at Ynysboeth school, in Mountain Ash, just before midnight.

At the height of the blaze, more than 50 firefighters were tackling it with 14 different fire engines and support vehicles.

The site is being treated as a crime scene while investigations into the cause of the fire get under way.

The local authority will have to decide where to place around 100 pupils for the final few weeks of the summer term.

Parents have been told that every effort will be made to keep the three to seven-year-old pupils together but they will not know any more about their future schooling until next week.

'Totally gutted'

BBC Wales valleys reporter Stephen Fairclough said the school, which was to celebrate its 50th anniversary later this year, had been "totally gutted" and all the pupils' work had gone.

He said: "All that remains is a shell. The walls of the single story building are still standing but the roof has totally gone and everything inside."

Incident commander Peter Jenkins, from South Wales Fire Service, said it was a "very severe" fire.

He said: "Within 15 minutes of the fire service being on scene virtually every classroom and room in the school was totally involved in fire. The fire spread rapidly across the flat roof of the building.

"The severity of fire prevented crews from entering the building. Efforts were made to contain the fire and stop it spreading to a nearby factory, AB Electronics, which employs a large number of people in the community."

BBC journalist Steven Fairclough there were "tears at the school gates this morning as parents realised just how devastating the fire had been".

Terry Hooker, whose four-year-old daughter is a pupil at the school, said most people in the community had been taught there, including his sons, wife and mother-in-law.

'Angry people'

"The school dates back to I think 1953. There are a lot of angry people here today," he said.

"I'm totally devastated. You just think of all the kids' work. You just feel so sorry for them and the parents - all the photos taken when they were little, all their work, just gone.

"My daughter's been crying her eyes out all morning. She just keeps saying 'I want to go to school'. She loves it there, all the kids do."

Keri Curtis, chair of the governors, said: "We are currently meeting with the LEA about the situation, the fire crews will be on site for most of the day, the parents have been informed and we are looking at putting something in place - possibly for next week - for the children.

"Our priority is to keep the staff and children together. We will try to keep some continuity for the children.

Mrs Curtis, who went to the school herself as well as sending her three children there, said: "It has been very traumatic but we are looking to the positives and the future, our priority is the children as well as the staff and parents. We are keeping the staff informed and the parents."

She added: "Everyone is being as positive as they can be but it has been traumatic for the community as a whole."

Police crime scene investigators and fire investigators will enter the building later once damping down of the scene has been completed.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites