A FIRE has destroyed an entire wing of Daylesford Secondary College early Monday morning.
At the fire’s peak there were 21 CFA appliances at the Smith Street school.
The school is now a crime scene, with police telling Fairfax Media it had been started inside the school.
Country Fire Authority firefighters were called to the high school at 3.20am after fire broke out in the school's northern wing.
Firefighters took more than two hours to extinguish the blaze as huge plumes of smoke were seen from the school.
More than 20 fire trucks battled to contain the fire, as it started spot fires nearby.
CFA issued an advice warning urging people to avoid the school, amid fears the fire would spread to grassfires.
"There was some concern the fire would jump into the grass," Ewan Cook, a spokesperson at the State Control Centre, said.
The fire completely engulfed the northern wing, causing extensive damage to the building.
Principal Graeme Holmes said the fire had shocked the school community
“It's devastating for the school, the whole community,” he said. “Just devastating for everyone. A really really sad day for the whole of Daylesford.”
“We've had a number of teachers come in, a number of parents come in and look at the damage. They're really really upset about it.
“It's a 60-year-old building. It's been here long time, it's part of Daylesford, it's part of the community. So even though it was tagged to be demolished in 12-18 months time it still is a huge loss to our school.”
He said the library was also damaged severely.
“We need to look later at what can be salvaged, it's highly unlikely we'll be able to salvage anything.
“We'll be able to restart school on schedule. (Getting students back) won't be a problem, the problem will be the lack of a science building and the lack of specialist classrooms. That will be the bit we have to work our way through.”
He has estimated the damage cost in the millions
“It's bad enough as it is, but if we find that it has been deliberately lit, that makes
it even more gut-wrenching for the community and the school to think that someone would do that.”
Police believe the alleged arsonists broke into the northern wing of the Smith Street campus just after 3am on Monday morning.
Detectives and arson chemists are investigating the fire.
Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit crimestoppersvic.com.au
- The Courier