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28th APRIL 1994
   

DEVASTATED BY SCHOOL BLAZE

 

WHAT A MESS…Mrs Gayner Jones the head of the special needs unit, points to the building damaged by fire. Inside are the mangled wrecks of bikes and other special toys and equipment used by the pupils.

STORY:
UNKNOWN

PHOTO:
JAMES DAVIES


AMMANFORD POLICE are appealing for witnesses after a local school fell victim to suspected arsonists in the latest of an escalating string of attacks at the school.

Damage running to thousands of pounds was caused this week when fire raged through Ammanford Junior School's special needs nit in Margaret Street.

Specialist bikes, games and equipment all went up in flames early on Sunday evening after the suspected arsonists set fire to an equipment shed linked to the unit's main building.

Six fire-fighters wearing breathing apparatus fought to prevent the flames spreading to the main building.

Together with two engines and a secondary crew of six firemen outside they successfully extinguished the fire within an hour.

This week detectives appealed to anyone who saw anything unusual between 5pm and 7.30pm on Sunday to come forward.

“We don't yet know how long it will take to get back to normal – it is absolute carnage,” Gayner Jones, special unit head, told the Guardian this week.

“I'm at a total loss for words.”

Fire damage to the unit's electrical system has so far ensured staff have yet to set a firm date for the return of the 24 children, aged between two and nineteen, to the school.

Sunday's incident, however, was just the latest in a catalogue of break-ins and attacks at the school which began when thieves forced their way in and stole a TV and video equipment at the beginning of November.

Since then the school's secluded location has attracted local teenagers to use the unit at weekends for drinking parties and even as a meeting place for sex.

Little more than a fortnight ago, says Mrs Jones, staff arrived at work to learn someone had forced their way into the premises during the evening, spent the night, and left only after urinating over desks and equipment.

“The problem is that we are in such a secluded spot we are often finding beer cans and condoms at the back when we get to work,” Mrs Jones says.

“But in the past when the shed has been broken into nothing has been stolen. There's nothing in there anyone would want to do this,” she said.

And although the unit boasts a new security system, she said the fire might have been much worse if not for the prompt action of neighbours alerting the fire-brigade.

And this week a shock report into the growing problem of arson in Britain's schools revealed one school in eight will this year be the target of arsonists.

Despite the growing threat to defenceless premises, the report says the problem can only be contained by the installation of the sort of hi-tech gadgetry already in use at the Ammanford unit.

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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