Fire guts reception, hallway of school

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DEVASTATION: Fire gutted the reception area and the hallway of Port Alfred High School after having apparently been purposefully set by burglars in the early hours of Sunday morning. Picture: ROB KNOWLES
DEVASTATION: Fire gutted the reception area and the hallway of Port Alfred High School after having apparently been purposefully set by burglars in the early hours of Sunday morning. Picture: ROB KNOWLES

PORT Alfred High School suffered a devastating blow on Sunday when security and fire services rushed to put out a fire that had gutted the reception and main hallway.

However, by yesterday the school was up and running with all pupils back at school and anxious to carry on with their studies after a one or two-day break while clean-up work was underway.

According to school principal Clive Pearson, the perpetrators broke into the school at about 4am on Sunday following a barn dance the previous evening. “The staff, who locked up after the barn dance, had a problem when they attempted to switch on the alarm. “They therefore contacted the security company who, apparently, sent a patrolperson to check the building.” It seems that no one saw the perpetrators as they battled to gain access to the school. “The thieves took more than an hour to break through the expandable safety door, ” Pearson said.

Once they had gained access, CCTV footage picked up two male perpetrators, although Pearson suggested there could have been more who waited outside. “They stole a computer tower and then searched for other things to steal. Looking at the CCTV footage, one could see a spark and a glow just outside the camera’s field of view. I think it is clear the fire was deliberately set,” he said.

Pearson applauded the community for their support the school had received. “We have been overwhelmed by the response from the community who have rolled up their sleeves to help,” Pearson said.

He estimates it could take three months before the school is completely back to normal. “I have told all the teachers to look at this as an opportunity to relook at some of our old systems and procedures and make them better.”

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