UPDATE: Fire at derelict Southwick school is investigated as arson

The fire broke out this evening. Picture by Eddie Mitchell
The fire broke out this evening. Picture by Eddie Mitchell
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The fire that almost completely destroyed a derelict school in Southwick on Saturday is believed to have been started deliberately, the fire service has confirmed.

Crews from West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service were called to the former Eastbrook Primary School building in Manor Hall Road just after 6.20pm, having received more than 50 emergency calls.

Eight fire engines tackled the blaze at its height, using five jets, a foam jet and a high pressure hose reel, a spokesperson said.

Residents in the neighbourhood were advised to keep their doors and windows closed.

The fire was extinguished by just after 4am on Sunday, though crews remained on the scene until around 11.45am to make sure the area was safe.

The building was 90 per cent damaged in the fire, said the spokesperson, adding: “Thankfully all people were accounted for.”

The fire was suspected to have been started deliberately, the spokesperson said.

The building had housed the infants classrooms, until these were moved to the school’s main site next door four years ago.

Now owned by West Sussex County Council, the building had not been used since then.

Julia Sherlock, headteacher at Eastbrook Primary Academy, said she had initially been worried about opening on Monday, as the school entrance is close to the burnt out building.

But crews had made the area safe for pupils to use and she said of the firefighters: “They have done a fabulous job.

“They contained it brilliantly.

“It could’ve been a lot worse.”

Police are investigating the fire, which they said may have been started deliberately.

Mrs Sherlock said: “We will obviously help in any way we can.

“It’s very early days.

“We have been asked to be vigilant.”

Detective sergeant Kate Witt said: “We have spoken to many people living around the school but we are continuing to appeal to anyone who might have seen something which could help with our investigation.”

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Firefighters are battling a large fire at a derelict primary school in Southwick.

Crews from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service were called to Manor Hall Road just after 6.20pm following reports.

Firefighters are still at the scene trying to extinquish the flames at the derelict Eastbrook Primary School.

Residents in the neighbourhood are being advised to keep their doors and windows closed.