Bishop's Stortford: School destroyed in devastating blaze
THE FUTURE of a Stortford primary School is in doubt after a devastating blaze gutted the building.
Hundreds of children were evacuated after the fire ripped through Hillmead JMI School on friday (December 5), collapsing the roof.
The school remained closed at the beginning of the week and pupils were ordered to stay at home while Hertfordshire County Council meets with staff to try to decide on its future.
The fire, believed to have started in the IT department, engulfed the building rapidly, leaving a large plume of smoke hanging over the town, which could be seen miles away in Much Hadham.
Despite the efforts of over 50 firefighters from across East Herts, the school in Woburn Avenue burned for two hours until it was eventually extinguished shortly before 6pm.
Police closed roads around the school as worried parents scrambled to the scene to check on their children.
Firefighters turned off the schools’ gas and electricity supplies, but were unable to save the structure.
The Fire investigation unit have confirmed that they are looking into the blaze, which is believed to have started after an electrical fault in a computer room - but do not believe it is suspicious.
East of Ambulance Spokesman Gary Sanderson described the scene, he said: “It was quite shocking to watch it fall down in front of you - the good thing is that no-one was injured.”
There were no casualties from the blaze but smoke drifted into a nearby housing area and a family of three were treated for smoke inhalation.
The future of the school remains in doubt, following a meeting between the County Council and Headteacher Gill MacKenzie.
In a letter to parents following the blaze she said: “First of all I want all the children and adults at Hillmead to know how proud I am of you all. Everyone on Friday was very sensible and did what we needed to do when the alarm rang and we discovered the fire. Although our school building has been spoilt, the most important thing is that everyone is safe and, although we are shaken and upset, we are all OK.”
Big-hearted County councillor Duncan Peek and East Herts District Councillor Colin Woodward, who is a trustees of the Rhodes Arts Complex have arranged for a special one-off performance of this years panto, Cinderella, for Hillmead pupils.