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Braintree: UPDATED: Head's devastation after school destroyed by fire
6:19pm Saturday 31st August 2013 in News
Following the fire that destroyed John Ray Infant School in Braintree yesterday, the school and Essex County Council have met to plan how to provide temporary accommodation as soon as possible.
They expect to provide information later this week. The start of term will be delayed and school will not reopen on Tuesday or for the rest of the week.
Ray Gooding, cabinet member for education, said: "I am very sad for the community as this very fine school has lost its building.
"The school has excellent leadership and I have every confidence that once we can arrange temporary accommodation they will continue to provide very good education to the children through this difficult period.
"I am also immediately looking into plans for a properly rebuilt school and will be working with the school leadership on this."
Headteacher Sandra Way said: "I was incredibly saddened and shocked by the fire on Saturday and am disappointed that there will be a delay to the start of the new term.
"We will be working closely with the district and county council to ensure we can start the new school year as soon as possible."
The school website is currently down and the council is working to get it back up and running.
ECC is working closely with Braintree Council and the fire service over making the site safe.
There is no damage to the junior school and this will reopen as planned.
At one stage, 50 firefighters were at the Notley Road school.
The incident commander confirmed that two men, aged 18 and 35, who were believed to have been carrying out building works on site, were affected by smoke inhalation.
A joint police and fire service investigation will be carried out once the fire has been extinguished.
Speaking earlier this evening, senior divisional commander Danny Fearn said crews tackled the blaze on three sides and were working in "punishing conditions" from outside.
Crews had to be withdrawn because of the dangerous structure of the building and the intensity of the fire for their safety but later made steady progress.
Mr Fearn said: "Initial crews arriving at the scene were faced with a well developed fire covering most of the building so they had little chance of saving it.
"The priority was to protect surrounding risk - the junior school building and homes close by.
"They are all now protected as crews work to bring the fire under control.
"Operations are being hindered by limited water supplies.
"Earlier today contractors were working on repairs to the infant school roof.
"Two of those building workers were affected by smoke and had to be treated by ambulance service paramedics.
"It is likely that the entire infant school building will be destroyed but we have tried to salvage what we can from the building."
A water bowser and additional pumps were called to provide manpower and maintain water supplies.
The fire was reported at 4.19pm today.
Traffic was diverted as a section of Notley Road was closed.
Notley Road was lined with residents and passers-by and from an alleyway behind the school, families watched in shock as firefighters battled the flames.
The roof crumbled and the heat could be felt on the metal fence lining the alleyway.
A number of parents who had children at the school, or had attended when they were children, said it was sad to see memories destroyed by the blaze.
As of 10.30pm, operations were scaled back, with a four pump and one aerial ladder platform taking over.
At midnight, a five pump relief took over at the scene and by 11.30pm most of the fire had been extinguished with crews turning over and damping down.
By 4.30am Notley Road was reopened to traffic. Crews are still on the scene this morning.
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