Emmanuel Anglican College principal Heidi O’Brien inspects damage caused by the fire in a toilet block at the West Ballina school.
Emmanuel Anglican College principal Heidi O’Brien inspects damage caused by the fire in a toilet block at the West Ballina school. DOUG EATON

School fire may be arson

A FIRE that gutted a school toilet block in Ballina yesterday is thought to have beendeliberately lit.

The blaze in the seniors toilet and cleaners block at Emmanuel Anglican College in Horizon West Drive was spotted by police officers from Lismore who were attending a motor vehicle accident in the vicinity at 2.55am.

The officers notified NSW Fire Brigade units before attempting to extinguish the blaze themselves.

Firefighters from Ballina were on the scene quickly, containing the fire before it spread to other buildings at the college.

Chemicals in the storage room caused some concern for firefighters.

The whole block was extensively damaged by the fire and the cost of repairs is estimated to be more than $100,000.

Emmanuel Anglican College principal, Heidi O’Brien, was deeply disappointed to see such destruction so close to the start of the school term, but said the school would manage.

Though initially thought to be the result of an electrical fault, a crime scene was soon established and investigations into the cause of the blaze are currently under way by Lismore detectives and Fire Brigade investigators.

Investigators are keen to speak to the driver and passengers of an old white sedan, with maroon or dark pink strikes down the sides, seen in the vicinity of the school in Richmond Drive shortly before the blaze.

Two young men and two young women thought to have been travelling in the car may be able to assist police with their inquiries.

Police said that any information provided to investigators would be treated in the strictest confidence.

Anyone with information about the circumstances surrounding the incident is asked to contact Ballina detectives on 6681 8627 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



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