Fire-hit Felsted School's history 'goes up in smoke'

Felsted School Fire
Image caption Water pumped from a nearby lake was sprayed on the fire

Staff at a private school hit by a "terrifying" fire have told how they watched as 90 years of history went "up in smoke".

About 25 children were evacuated from the girls' boarding house at Felsted School, near Great Dunmow, on Sunday evening, after the fire took hold on the first floor and roof.

Crews from across Essex were called in to fight the fire through the night.

Deputy head Chris Townsend said the damage was "very sad".

Despite the damage to the Follyfield House building, the school said it expected to open as normal in September.

It is one of the most important buildings in the school and within the village.

'Shocking, astonishing, terrifying'

Mr Townsend said: "It was 90 years of history going up in smoke so it is very sad.

"We anticipate we will be open as normal in September."

Jenny Burrett, headmistress of Felsted Preparatory School, said: "Within a very short space of time it was ablaze and it was shocking, astonishing, terrifying how the flames just caught on and took the building."

At the height of the fire, poor water supply meant fire engines had to leave the site to fetch water from a lake.

The school term had ended but about 25 students and staff from a summer school were on site.

The fire was contained by 23:40 BST on Sunday and the operation scaled back at 03:00 BST on Monday, when the building was still smouldering.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is under way.

The school has day and boarding boys and girls, aged from four to 18.

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