Fire Risk Assessment

Pupils Terror as Fire Engulfs School

Terrified pupils at Sawston Village College were in tears as a huge blaze ripped through a building on the site.

Explosions were heard and flames engulfed a library at the school as more than 1,000 students and staff were led to safety. Eight fire crews, a turntable ladder from Cambridge and a command vehicle were called to the school and roads were closed by police.

Students and staff were praised by firefighters for following drill instructions. Witnesses spoke of their terror as smoke covered the school and parents rushed to collect their children.

Cosmo Kennedy, 15, a pupil at the school, said: “Suddenly there was all this black smoke clouding the sky. Everybody started running and panicking. We were all terrified. It was really traumatic. The staff were absolutely fantastic.”

He added: “There was a huge loud bang. I thought it was an explosion. We were in shock. I feel sorry for the younger kids who just started this week. What a start.”

Elliott Hobbs, 12, said: “The teachers took us out of the class to the place we have to go if there is a fire. We did see massive plumes of smoke coming out and then there were huge flames. Part of the building fell down.”

His father David Hobbs, 60, of Foxton, said: “I must say the police were amazingly efficient. Everybody was safe and there was no panic.”

Crowds of pupils and concerned parents gathered around the school as buses collected pupils and parents attempted to pick up their children.

Mum Rachel Rogers said: “I was called by my friend who said there was a fire in the library.

“I was worried because my son often goes there at the end of school. But I was told everyone was safe.”

Sharon Hague-Lang, 39, of New Road, Sawston, said: “The new children who have just started class were really upset. They were panicking and some of them were in tears. I was coming back from Cambridge and I could see the smoke from the Gog Magogs.”

Her son, Daniel, 13, said “We were just sitting in maths when we saw all the smoke coming from the Walnut Room. We all got out safely. Some of the younger ones were panicking. I am just glad that everyone is all right.”

Maurice Moore, area commander for Cambridge Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Crews have managed to stop the flames spreading to a house and to other parts of the building. When crews arrived the children had already got out.

“Obviously the kids were really upset. It was quite frightening for them to see their school on fire. The roof was heavily alight but it has been contained.”

TEACHERS have told how they were sent an email about fire safety just before a blaze ripped through part of their college. Staff and pupils thought the alarm was a drill as they poured out of the school yesterday. They received an email about fire safety minutes before the alarm was sounded, following the break out of the blaze in the Henry Morris Hall.

Speaking as pupils poured out of the school, Steve Mastin, head of history, said: “Everyone got out of their classes and lined up after the alarm went off. It was remarkable. I have never seen anything like it. We had just been sent an email to remind us of our fire safety drills, which we usually do at the start of the term. Then it was for real.

“We were all walking out and there was just black, billowing smoke. It is really sad. It is a beautiful old building and part of the original school. Henry Morris Hall was built in the 1930s. This is a horrible thing to happen but I am just glad no-one was hurt.”

Jonathan Culpin, principal of the school, praised staff, pupils and the fire service.

He said: “Everyone at the school, including 1,050 students and 150 staff, was evacuated safely. I was at a staff meeting at Linton Village College when I was alerted to the fire. I arrived to find that all the students had been evacuated. They were extremely calm and collected and knew exactly what to do as they have practised fire drills several times before.

“I would like to pay tribute to the fire service and to the police for their management of the situation.

“The students’ behaviour was impeccable under the circumstances and I would also like to commend them.

Nigel Burgess, fire station commander at Huntingdon said eight engines eventually attended the blaze. He added: “It is far too early to say what the cause was, but a full investigation will be carried out.”

The fire service said that at this stage the cause was not thought to be deliberate. The fire was extinguished by 4.55pm. Source: Cambridge News

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