Firefighters battle classroom blaze
LATEST: A fire at Whangamata Area School has completely gutted its technology block.
The fire started in the roof of the woodwork classroom shortly before 11am and the building was well ablaze by the time the fire service arrived.
Chief fire officer Kevin Ryan said the flames were reaching above the roof and quickly spread through the rest of the building.
Six crews from Whangamata, Waihi and Pauanui battled the blaze, and managed to bring it under control by about 12:35pm.
However, the woodwork, metalwork and automotive classrooms could not be saved.
All that remains of the school's technology department is the outer shell and charcoaled tables, chairs and equipment.
Principal Ross Preece estimated at least $1 million worth of equipment was damaged in fire.
He said it was fortunate that most of the students were not in class when the alarm sounded.
Senior students were taking part in an athletics day on the field, others were on study leave for NCEA exams and the juniors and staff were the only ones who had to be evacuated.
It is not being treated as suspicious and fire safety will investigate the cause.