Cheshire Police has launched an arson investigation following a serious fire at a school in Ellesmere Port.
The fire at St Saviours School, Seacombe Drive in Great Sutton, was reported to officers shortly after 5.20pm on Tuesday 1 August.
Officers from Cheshire Police, and colleagues from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, swiftly attended the scene to find that a disused building at the rear of the site was well alight.
As a result of the fire approximately 20 residents from adjacent properties were evacuated from their homes and a number of local roads were closed while firefighters dealt with the incident. Residents were allowed to return to their homes shortly after 11pm.
Residents are asked to avoid the area at the current time as the structure is extremely dangerous. Officers and firefighters remain at the site and work to stabilise the structure is expected to start later today; Security staff will be in place to secure the site whilst this work takes place.
Inspector Ian Stead from Ellesmere Port Local Policing Unit said: “This was a deliberate act which has cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds and could have 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.
“Investigation officers from fire and police have now confirmed that the fire was started deliberately. Officers are following a number of lines of enquiry, including CCTV analysis, forensics and speaking to local residents. In addition, a 16-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of arson; he is currently assisting us with our enquiries.
“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 in relation to this incident to contact the team here at Ellesmere Port on 101.”
Steve Barnes, Cheshire West Group Manager from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, added: “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. What arsonists don't realise is that it could be their friends of 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.