Pupils escape Lichfield Close blaze

07 March 2012

by Gavin Drake

Evacuation: children are moved to safety, while the Fire Service tackles the blaze at Lichfield Cathedral School on Tuesday GAVIN DRAKE

Evacuation: children are moved to safety, while the Fire Service tackles the blaze at Lichfield Cathedral School on Tuesday GAVIN DRAKE

AN EXPLODING laptop is being blamed for a fire that tore through a historic part of Lichfield Cathedral School, although the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service says that investigations into the cause of the blaze are con­tinuing.

More than 200 children, aged between eight and 12, were moved to safety after the fire broke out in the School House block at about 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday. The children were moved to the Old Palace, another of the school’s buildings, at the other end of the cathedral close.

Some 32 fire-fighters from South Staffordshire took about half an hour to bring the blaze under control, extracting water from the nearby reservoir Stowe Pool.

The lead officer of the Fire Service, Phil McFarlane, praised the school’s “well-organised, well-managed, and well-disciplined” response to the fire. He said that the first floor of the school had been “gutted”.

The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, who is the school’s chairman of governors, said that they would do all they could to keep the school open, and would “work with the school’s insurers to get a recovery plan in place by the end of the week”.

The headmaster, Michael Chanter, said: “I would like to thank all the staff and children for their swift and sensible response to this incident. I am immensely proud to be their headmaster.”

All classes on Wednesday were transferred to the school’s Longdon site, to the north of Lichfield. A structural engineer was due to visit; and staff were identifying altern­ative space within the Close.

Mr Chanter said: “My first prior­ity is to restore GCSE and A-level teaching, as the public-examination classes are currently engaged in work crucial to their success this summer. Provision for children in Key Stages 2 and 3 is also being planned, and will be implemented as soon as possible.”

The school was originally created to educate the cathedral’s boy scholars. It is now co-educational and attracts 450 students, aged be­tween three and 18, who pay fees ranging from £3500 a term for day students to £14,000 a year for boarders.

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