South East Wales

Fire at Betws Primary School Bridgend investigated

An investigation is under way into the cause of a fire which completely destroyed a school's junior block.

Hundreds of pupils were evacuated after a "serious" fire at Betws primary school near Bridgend on Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters were called to the scene at around 14:30 BST where three crews tackled the blaze.

Bridgend council said except for the Flying Start facility the school would be open to all pupils on Wednesday.

In a statement, the council said: "All 219 pupils have been safely evacuated and sent home."

It added that it appeared that the school's nursery, infants and Flying Start buildings had not been damaged.

A spokesman for South Wales Fire Service said three crews tackled the fire with a water bowser and hydraulic platform.

Residents living near the school, around six miles (9.6km) from the centre of the town, were warned to stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed.

Liz Pearce, the school's deputy headteacher, said the alarm had been raised by a member of staff.

"The alarm bell sounded and the schoolchildren left the building with the staff very sensibly," she said.

"Everybody was out very calmly within a minute and a half."

Ms Pearce said the fire took hold of the building within 20 minutes.

"For the first five minutes you could just see smoke and then the flames took hold later on," she said.

"Twenty-three years of work in there, myself. And all the children's work, all the hard work the teachers and children put in, it's all gone."

In statement on Tuesday evening Bridgend council paid tribute to the "prompt response" of school staff and the emergency services.

'Support'

Council officers were on the scene and would be working with the police and fire service to find the cause of the blaze and secure the area, it said.

"Understandably, this has been an upsetting incident for all pupils," said the council, "and staff and council officers are arranging support for those children who need it."

With the exception of the Flying Start facility the school would be open to all pupils on Wednesday, said the council, so they could access the support being put in place for them.

"We are now working to see how pupils can be accommodated until the end of the summer term so that their education continues with as little disruption as possible," said the council.

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