Fire at Lower Hutt school suspicious

Last updated 14:28 28/05/2012

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Police have been asked to investigate a suspicious fire at Naenae College after investigators found a smashed window in the room that was destroyed.

The Fire Service was called to the school just before 7pm last night after security guards found an office ablaze in Block E, at the rear of the school.

Fire fighters managed to contain the fire within the room and prevent it spreading to the building's six classrooms.

Fire safety officer Bruce Cole said a smashed window suggested the fire was deliberately lit and he had called in police to investigate.

Naenae College acting principal Mark Robinson said office furniture, bookshelves, and language resources were lost to the fire, but student records escaped unharmed.

Classes had been moved out of the building today but it was expected they would be back tomorrow, he said.

"It's pretty severely damaged. I would even go as far as to say it has gutted the office and it's going to need a fairly intensive bit of repair to get it back functioning again," he said.

"It's a horrible thing to have happen, but it's not a bad as it could have been."

The block was empty at the time and Mr Robinson praised the quick response of the security guards who responded to the alarm.

Naenae College would review the incident and determine if it needed to make any improvements to safety or security, he said. The office did not have an automatically-activated sprinkler.

"At the moment, I think the systems we had in place to prevent things from getting any worse worked, and they worked very effectively," Robinson said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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