Horrified parents and pupils watched as flames engulfed their primary school in the early hours of Tuesday in Dagenham.
“We could see the flames from our house” said a shocked parent whose daughter attends Roding Primary School in Hewett Road.
“The smoke was really thick and covered most of the houses here. A lot of parents just stood out in the street in our dressing gowns and watched the flames, it’s so sad. Our kids love that school and the staff.” London Fire Brigade received the call at just before 5am on Tuesday morning and remained on scene for most of the day.
The fire was put out just after seven thirty in the morning and the nearby Catholic Primary School St. Teresa was also closed as a precaution.
Staff, pupils and parents, watched in horror as the flames swept through the front of the building, burning eight classrooms and destroying a significant part of the school.
The Primary School in Dagenham is one of the biggest in the country with 1,300 pupils across two sites. The Hewett Road site has so far been deemed unfit to re open due to the extensive damage caused by the fire and will remain closed for the rest of the week.
Twelve fire engines and more than eighty fire fighters attended the fire and remained at the school for most of Tuesday.
Station Manager Rod Wainwright said: “Flames could be seen from some distance away and crews were faced with a serious blaze when they arrived on scene. They worked hard to bring the fire under control but given the intensity of the fire, there is unfortunately significant damage to the school.
“It is too soon to speculate on the cause of the fire, but as soon as they’re able to, fire investigators will enter the site to state their work.”
“It’s really heartbreaking to see our school burnt down like this, I’m so glad no one was injured and that the school was empty,” said another parent. Leader of the Council Darren Rodwell said: “The cause of the fire is still not known but the local community, including schools, have been very generous with offers of support. I will keep them updated on the on-going situation.”