Northern Ireland

Holy Child Primary School: Fire treated as suspected arson

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Media captionMaterials that were set to be used for reroofing the school building are believed to have been set alight , as Keiron Tourish reports

A fire that broke out at a school in Londonderry on Monday is being treated as a suspected arson attack.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service was called to Holy Child Primary School at 21:20 BST.

A spokesperson said the roof of the building in Central Drive in Creggan was alight when crews arrived.

Orla McDonnell, the school's principal, said: "We very nearly didn't have a school by the end of last night.

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Media captionThis footage from Declan Gallagher shows the school's roof on fire

"But thankfully the fire service were here quickly."

"It was an horrific experience last night getting that phone call, driving up to the school, and wondering what you were going to be met with."

Ms O'Donnell said school governors had been having a meeting earlier in the evening to discuss the school's 60th anniversary next year.

She said the overwhelming feeling on Tuesday morning was one of relief.

Image caption Building materials on the school's roof were set alight

"It would be fair to say that there is an ongoing problem with youths coming onto school grounds," she said.

"I would just urge every parent to sit their children down and have a talk about their personal safety, there could have been loss of life last night."

In a statement online, the school said damage was limited and the school opened to pupils on Tuesday morning.

Image caption Orla McDonnell said there has been a "problem with youths coming onto school grounds"

Four fire appliances attended the scene on Monday night.

Fire Service district commander Kevin Lynch said: "The quick action of the fire service meant we were able to extinguish the fire before it got a chance to get into the structure of the building."

The blaze was brought under control shortly before midnight.

Image caption Investigators visited the scene of the fire on Monday morning

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