Library lost but school has 'big plans' for future

KIRSTY MCMURRAY
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2013
Devon Intermediate head Fiona Parkinson
LIBRARY RUINED: Devon Intermediate head Fiona Parkinson says the fire-hit school is looking forward to making the best of a bad situation. ‘‘It’s a great opportunity for us to start over.’’

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There are no books left in Devon Intermediate's library after a fire gutted it last week.

Principal Fiona Parkinson said the fire had devastated the school and caused extensive smoke and water damage to the building.

"We've lost our whole library. We've lost all our books."

As well as the library, Mrs Parkinson's office and an administration office were also badly damaged.

"It's only a building, they're only books. The important thing is none of our children and staff were hurt.

"I took three big breaths and then thought we have to move on."

She said the amount of damage was still being assessed, but the building was structurally sound.

New Plymouth fire brigade senior station officer Steve Dombroski said the fire had started when a fluorescent light fitting failed on the ground floor of the library. "It's caused the light to drop down and ignite some books and plastic cases and spread from there."

Last Tuesday the school was evacuated about 2.30pm as 16 firefighters with four fire engines tackled the flames.

Mrs Parkinson said the fire alarm was already going off when police rang to advise that a gunman had been seen in the area and the siren drowned out instructions to lock down the school.

Five pupils were taken to Taranaki Base Hospital after inhaling smoke.

The gunman turned out to be someone carrying an air rifle home after trying to sell it.

Mrs Parkinson said the school was looking forward to making the best of a bad situation.

"It's a great opportunity for us to start over." She said the school had some big plans for the future of the library, but was not yet ready to reveal them.

"We want to turn this into a wonderful learning environment."

As well as the library books being burnt, all of the school's teacher resources went up in smoke. "The Ministry of Education has been helping us out with that."

She said the school was grateful for the support that had come in thick and fast from all around the community.

"We've had offers of books and staff and help, we've had morning tea shouted and flowers and lots and lots of food - it's fantastic."

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