After being called to the school on Royal Avenue just after 4pm, firefighters worked in difficult conditions to bring the fire under control. The school which was built in 1957 had no sprinklers and the roof was constructed using sandwich foam boards which helped spread the fire in an area that was difficult for the firefighters to reach. Additionally, a strong wind helped spread the fire across the school towards the sports hall. Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service recommend that all schools are fitted with a sprinkler system which would help suffocate the fire in its early stages.
During the height of the incident, there were 20 fire engines including one from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, specialist appliances such as two aerial ladder platforms and approximately 125 firefighters at the scene. Firefighters overcame difficulties with the water supply in the initial stages of the fire and by 9pm they were putting just over 90,000 litres of water an hour on to the fire.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, however, we believe it is suspicious and late on Sunday evening Lancashire Constabulary arrested five boys between 11 and 15 years old on suspicion of arson. We will continue to work with the Police to establish what occurred in the hours leading up to the incident.
By the early hours of Monday morning, 10 fire engines were still at the incident extinguishing the last pocket of flames and ensuring that the scene was safe. It is expected that fire engines will remain at the scene until late on Monday afternoon.