Fire damaged school '˜now one again' after restoration

A school has completed restoration work, a year to the day a fire ripped through its classrooms.

Friday, 21st July 2017, 1:33 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 1:01 pm
Picture by Allan McKenzie/YWNG - 14/07/17 - Press - Airedale Primary School Opening - Castleford, England - Pupils and teachers are out for the re-opening of part of the Airedale school by Deputy Mayor Cllr. Stuart Heptinstall.

Airedale Junior School lost four classrooms in the major blaze, along with a library and computer suite.

But contractors have now put the finishing touches to the Fryston Road building and Wakefield Council’s deputy mayor, councillor Stuart Heptinstall (inset), was on hand to cut the ribbon on Friday.

The school’s business manager Mandy Mattison said: “It was a serious fire, we lost a whole wing of classrooms and it was right in the middle of the school.

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“Luckily it happened just a few days after we had broken up last year so we were able to get a number of portable buildings in for when the children started back after summer holidays.

“It now looks fantastic, the children have settled back in brilliantly already, and it’s great to have them back in there because the school was split in two for a while.”

At its height, eight crews were tackling the blaze at the school which had broken out early evening on Thursday, July 14, 2016.

Although nobody was hurt, an entire year group of more than 100 pupils had to be temporarily relocated when they returned in September.

Even then headteacher Katie Robinson admitted it had been ‘touch and go’ whether they would be able to get all temporary classrooms in place. She said a huge community effort was made, with individuals and organisations offering their services or monetary donations.

The fire service confirmed no foul play was involved in the blaze.

“It was totally accidental, we had been having roofing done and all the safety checks had been done,” added Mandy.

“The fire brigade thought it was a rogue spark that had maybe gone into a birds’ nest that started it.

“We had to have the whole area demolished.”

The re-building work began in January, with the contract being awarded to Evora Construction.

“The actual rebuild has been quicker than we thought it would be. They have really cracked on with it, it looks fantastic and we will be able to be one school again.”