A 16-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of arson following a serious fire at a school in Ellesmere Port yesterday (Tuesday, August 1).
Cheshire police have launched an arson investigation into the blaze a a derelict building at St Saviour's Catholic Primary School on Seacombe Drive in Great Sutton shortly after 5.20pm, and around 20 nearby residents had to be evacuated from their homes for up to six hours.
Firefighters and security staff remain at the scene and have asked residents to avoid the area as they work to stabilise the structure which is at the rear of the St Saviour's site.
Police have arrested a 16-year-old boy who is assisting with enquiries and continue to follow a number of lines of enquiry including CCTV analysis and forensics.
Inspector Ian Stead from Ellesmere Port Local Policing Unit said the fire was a 'deliberate act which has cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds'.
"It could have had very serious consequences. Thankfully on this occasion nobody was injured as a result of the incident, although the fire did cause major disruption for a number of local residents.
“As part of the investigation I’m keen to hear from anyone who was in the area around the time of the incident and believes that they may have witnessed anything suspicious. I urge anyone with any information to contact the team here at Ellesmere Port on 101," he added.
A number of roads were closed as a result of the fire and a local rest centre was opened for residents who had had to leave their homes. They were able to return at around 11pm.
'A serious crime'
Steve Barnes, Cheshire West Group Manager from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Arson is a serious crime. With incidents like these it is only a matter of time before someone sustains serious injury or, worse, is killed.
" We work very closely with the police and other partner agencies to tackle this on-going issue of deliberate fires and this will continue, but we also need residents to be aware and help us where they can.
"Arson is extremely dangerous, fire spreads quickly so what may seem like a small fire can easily become out of control. Not only do these fires put the lives of firefighters at risk, they also cause considerable danger to the public because responding to incidents of arson could delay firefighters in getting to a real emergency."
He added: "What arsonists don't realise is that it could be their friends or family members who are in need of rescue in an emergency.”
Anyone with any information in relation to the incident is asked to contact Cheshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 693 of 1/8/2017.