A spectacular blaze at Nayland College on Friday night visible from the hills behind Stoke burnt out a horticultural shed but did little other damage.
Flames engulfed the propagation shed and the burning plastic cladding sent up thick black smoke, prompting a number of calls to emergency services from hillside residents.
The shed and class sets of gardening tools were destroyed but the adjoining steel-clad automotive workshop was saved from significant damage.
School principal Rex Smith said horticulture was a strong subject at Nayland but with only one week of term left the fire would not be a major disruption. Insurers would assess the damage next week and he hoped the unit would be back in action after the summer holidays.
"Hopefully it'll all happen quickly and if we can get some contractors in we'll get started on something."
The horticulture area is on a field one level below the main school buildings, close to the tennis courts.
No cause has been established, but Nelson police said on Saturday that they could not rule out the possibility that the fire was suspicious.
Electrical equipment had been taken for analysis, and samples were collected from the fire scene to be forensically examined by ESR.
No cause has been established and a fire service investigator was to examine the scene.
The incident controller, Stoke senior station officer Tane Simpson, said the Stoke brigade stayed at the scene until 10pm to make sure there were no flare-ups, and left a scene guard on duty overnight.
He said because of the shed's distance from the main part of the school there was a short delay in getting a mains water supply to the fire, with nine 30-metre lengths of hose used to span the distance from the nearest hydrant to the fire engine.
"The guys worked really well and got that water supply to us."
- © Fairfax NZ News