A ST Helens primary school had to be shut at short notice yesterday after a suspected arson attack destroyed a neighbouring garage.
Parents with young children at Robins Lane Community Primary School were informed of the eleventh-hour closure via a mass group text message yesterday morning (Tuesday, May 3) after a ferocious overnight blaze at Robins Lane Services.
The Sutton school’s headteacher, Lisa Howard, had only been told of the need to shut the school by the fire service at about 7.30am.
Fire crews from across the region were called to the single-storey car repair workshop at about 10.40pm on Monday (May 2).
At the height of the incident, crews from Parr Stocks, Whiston, Eccleston, Newton-le-Willows, Huyton and the aerial appliance from Liverpool were all called upon to help tackle the inferno, using three powerful main branch jets.
One fire crew remained at the scene until shortly after 9.30am yesterday to dampen down any remaining hotspots and ensure the fire did not reignite.
Station Manager Steve Pratt said: “When crews arrived they were confronted with a well established fire. The building was well alight and it was particularly hazardous due to the contents of the premises, where 22 vehicles and 2 motorbikes were stored.
“The whole building was on fire, there was a lot of smoke and as soon as the fire went through the roof the flames were quite high. Crews tackled the fire from outside the building initially and when the conditions allowed, they were able to go inside and extinguish the fire.”
A joint investigation into the cause of the blaze has since been launched by fire investigators in conjunction with the police - who were quickly informed by fire crews that the incident was “potentially suspicious”.
Mrs Howard declined to commment but a council spokesman said: “Following advice from the fire service, a decision was made to close Robins Lane Primary School after a fire at adjoining premises.
“Parents were informed via the school’s text messaging system and health and safety checks carried out at the site. The school was undamaged but was closed as a precaution.”