School rises from the ashes of arson attack

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 15/01/2014

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Students whose classrooms were destroyed in a suspected arson attack will be able to start their school year as normal.

Fourteen fire appliances responded to the blaze at Richmond Road School, Ponsonby, at around 5.50am on Sunday.

The fire started in a toilet block, destroying it and a neighbouring classroom, senior fire risk management officer Russell Dickson says.

The school block dates from the 1920s so fire was able to travel through the ceiling, causing smoke and heat damage to three other classrooms.

A police investigation is under way but there are no suspects yet, Avondale Detective Senior Sergeant Peter Florence says.

Five prefabricated classrooms from other schools will be installed in the next two weeks.

Students are set to start back on February 7.

Principal Stephanie Anich says they will begin the year with little disruption.

"There have been quite a few families out at the school having a look and while we are all devastated we are looking forward."

Plans were in the pipeline for some redevelopment of the school before the fire.

"The ministry might take the fire as an opportunity to look at the future of the school.

"It could be a silver lining. We could end up with even better resources for the future."

Information about the fire can be forwarded to police by calling 820 5763, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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