COUNTY NEWS UPDATE: Sussex school fire ‘under control’

The fire started at around 8am. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

The fire started at around 8am. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

The fire which broke out at a Sussex school is now under control, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (WSFRS) said.

More than 70 firefighters have been tackling the blaze at Selsey Academy, near Chichester, since it started at around 8am today (Sunday, August 21).

The fire has destroyed more than 75 per cent of the building. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

The fire has destroyed more than 75 per cent of the building. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

Neighbouring firefighters from Hampshire were also drafted in to help with the major operation.

WSFRS said the library at the school has been saved, as well as the sports hall.

Firefighters tackled the blaze in windy conditions.

Gary Towson, spokesman for WSFRS, said: “We don’t know what the cause of the fire is as yet.

“There is a large area of damage and there are still hot spots that need to be dampened down so firefighters will be at the scene for some hours yet.

“However, the fire has been stopped from spreading any further. We’ve saved the sports hall and library but clearly there is major damage to other parts of the school.

“It will be a joint team effort to get the school back onto its feet again and at the heart of the Selsey community.

“The incident commander has said it was a joint team effort between all of the emergency services and has praised the local community for bringing tea, coffee and food for emergency services crews.

“It shows tremendous community spirit and we would like to extend our thanks.”

In the wake of today’s fire, West Sussex County Council and The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT) are working to ensure the education of pupils at Selsey Academy is not affected.

Both the trust and council officials are working together to make sure plans are in place for the start of the new term in September.

West Sussex County Council leader, Louise Goldsmith, said: “Our thanks as always go West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service for dealing with the blaze at Selsey Academy so promptly and efficiently and to all our partners who helped them, including Hampshire Fire and Rescue, Red Cross volunteers and the local community who did so much to support firefighters and staff with donations of food and water.

“This was an extensive fire and we know the level of damage has yet to be properly assessed, although we anticipate it will be severe.

“We will be working with the headteacher at Selsey Academy and the Kenmal Academies Trust to support pupils, parents and staff.

“Our top priority will be ensuring that pupils and parents to know where they will be based from the start of the new school term in September.”

A spokesman for TKAT said: “The fire services are continuing to control the fire and secure the area.

“The cause of the fire is unknown and we are therefore unable to provide further comment on this. The safety and welfare of our pupils, staff and communities is of utmost importance and we are working closely with the emergency services to ensure this happens. Our priority is to ensure the children of the Selsey Academy can return to school as soon as possible.”

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