Australia Fire rips through Broome Primary School with firefighters, police at the scene

17:04  12 january  2020
17:04  12 january  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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Broome Primary School in northern Western Australia's Kimberley region has been gutted by a large fire, with much of the school thought to be destroyed.

The buildings, some of which date back to 1901, went up in flames shortly after 4:00pm (local time) on Sunday.

Classrooms were quickly engulfed, and fireballs could be seen exploding several metres around the buildings.

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Police closed roads in the area and ordered members of the public to move back amidst concerns about asbestos in the school.

People had gathered to watch the inferno, including teachers and parents who were brought to tears by the sight.

Dozens of firefighters attended, including a specialist crew from Broome Airport.

Some had to use bolt cutters to get into the property.

A thick plume of black smoke could be seen from across the coastal town.

Broome man Roly Hutcheson was watching and said the fire was enormous.

"It's just gone bang and now it's right through, it's terrible," he said.

"It's the worst fire I've ever seen in a structure, it keeps reigniting, it started in one room and got into the roofs.

"I think any school means something to people who live in a place like Broome."

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Broome Primary School teacher Mary-Jane Crutchley said: "It's devastating, I smelled it from home and then I got texts."

"There's four classrooms, some offices and the staff room [burning]. There's billows of black smoke and good times going up in the air."

Another local man, Sam, said it looked as if almost the entire school was affected.

"I was going to the pub to get a beer and saw the smoke, I thought I had better come over and have a look," he said.

"I think every emergency vehicle in town is here.

"We've nearly watched the whole thing burn since we've been here, it's gutted the joint, you could hear the ceilings and all of that falling out of it before."

Ambulances were sent to the school but there were no reported injuries.

A number of students and other children also witnessed the blaze.

It is still school holidays and the school's 400 students were due to return on February 1.

The fire has been extinguished and local detectives are gathering evidence with the Arson Squad expected to fly in from Perth.

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