Firefighters return to site of Unity College fire

FIREFIGHTERS have this morning been called back to a school where classrooms were destroyed in a blaze yesterday.

The alarm was raised at Unity College in Caloundra West about 8.40am after a strong smell of smoke was reported in the administration block.

Staff were evacuated and firefighters swept the building in search of the source of the burning smell.

Meanwhile, the area around the building that was yesterday destroyed by fire remained under police watch.

Detectives have reviewed CCTV of the area around the time of the incident.

Sunshine Coast District Criminal Investigation Branch officer-in-charge Daren Edwards said there didn’t appear to be any people in the vicinity of the building before or after the fire.

He said a possible ignition point had been identified near an electrical box in the middle of the building but investigations were in their early stages.

UPDATE 6.45PM: A crime scene has been set up around Year 2 classrooms destroyed by a suspicious fire at Unity College in Caloundra West.

Devastated students, parents and school staff watched firefighters battle the blaze after the fire took hold shortly before 1pm.

The damage bill is expected to exceed $1 million, a figure that did not take into account the sentimental value of children’s work also destroyed.

About 150 Year 2 and Year 3 students have been asked to remain at home on Monday while plans are made to rehouse their classes.

They are due to return to class on Tuesday.

Principal Rudy Goosem said three Year 2 classrooms had been destroyed and some parts of a Year 3 classroom damaged.

Mr Goosem said the loss was devastating for teachers and students.

“We are looking at ways to support teachers because they have lost all of their resources,” Mr Goosem said.

Year 2 student Lincoln Ritchings, whose family lives next door to the school, was walking home from a friend’s house when he noticed a lot of black smoke.

“I saw a fire at the school and I ran into my house and I yelled at my mum and said ’emergency, there’s a fire at my school’,” Lincoln said.

Father’s Day work Lincoln had ready for his dad, who is due home from work on Tuesday, as well as things for grandparents day, which is due to be held on Tuesday, were destroyed.

“I’m a little bit sad, not very happy.”

His mother Yasmin Ritchings said her family had been welcomed by the school’s community since two of her children started there at the beginning of term three.

“Everyone is so family-orientated so it’s going to be a bit devastating for all the kids that were in that classroom,” Mrs Ritchings said.

“It was not nice to see it go up in flames so hopefully they figure out what happened.”

EARLIER: Classrooms at Unity College in Caloundra West have been destroyed by fire.

Parents and students watched on stunned at the Year 2 classroom was engulfed.

The fire is believed to have started shortly before 1pm.

Streets have been cordoned off and residents warned to stay inside to avoid toxic smoke.