Fire at city school

'Deliberately lit'

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 08:02 03/01/2013
Alex Fensome

James Hargest College deputy principal Al Pannett speaks about the fire at the school this morning.

Southland Times photo
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
Invercargill firefighters at James Hargest College this morning.
Southland Times photo
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
Invercargill fire station officer Dean Chalmers inspecting the fire damage to James Hargest College which happened about 6am today.

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A senior fire investigator this afternoon said a school fire in Invercargill was a suspected arson.

A block of classrooms a James Hargest College were gutted by fire, with extensive damage from flames, heat and smoke early this morning.

This afternoon fire investigator Mike Cahill said he could confirm the fire was an arson following a scene examination this afternoon.

''There is no other explanation,'' he said.

''There was evidence to conclude it was deliberately lit.''

A deputy principal Al Pannett said the fire had put at least six classrooms out of action for the start of the school year.

The block was being renovated to accommodate home economics and computing classrooms.

The plan had been for half of it to be finished by the start of term.

None of the computers and equipment were in the building, which was a blessing, he said.

It was too early to say what the school would do with the damaged classrooms, he said.

However, while they were being renovated the school had plans in place to work around them, with some classes at the junior campus.

Firefighters arrived at the scene about 5.50am to find buildings well ablaze.

Six crews of firefighters are still at the school, continuing to damp down the fire.

It was likely they would be there for some time today, the spokesman said.

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