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5 boys held in school 'arson' probe
Five children have been arrested after a fire destroyed a school that was due to reopen after the summer holidays.
Leyland St Mary's Catholic Technology College in Royal Avenue, Leyland, Lancashire, was devastated by the blaze, which broke out shortly after 4pm on Sunday.
Five boys aged between 11 and 15 have been released on police bail after being held on suspicion of arson, Lancashire Police said.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said 125 firefighters and 20 engines were involved in tackling the blaze.
The school, which was built in 1957, had no sprinklers. The cause of the blaze is being investigated but is believed to be suspicious, the fire service said.
About 10 fire engines remained at the scene in the early hours of Monday to extinguish the last pockets of flames and ensure the scene was safe.
Staff were due to attend the school on Monday for an inset day, its website said, and pupils were to return for lessons after the holidays on Tuesday. A statement on the website said the fire had caused "devastating damage" and asked people to "please pray for the school at this difficult time".
The five boys, from Leyland, have been released until September 30 pending further inquiries.
Lancashire County Councillor Matthew Tomlinson, Cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: "I know that the whole school community is deeply shocked and saddened by this incident, and that parents and pupils will be feeling worried and anxious about what happens next. The school site is still under the control of the fire service, so we do not yet have the access we need to make a full assessment of the damage. We are sorry for the inconvenience this is bound to cause, but this is a very difficult situation and we would ask everyone to please bear with us. The school and the county council are working closely together to get the school up and running again as soon as possible, and we will keep parents and pupils up to date with the latest developments."
In a further statement later, Mr Tomlinson said: "The school site is still under the control of the fire service, so we do not yet have the access we need to make a full assessment of the damage. Sadly, however, it is clear that there is significant damage and staff and pupils will not be able to return to the school until next week at the earliest. We are sorry for the inconvenience this is bound to cause, but this is a very difficult situation and we would ask everyone to please bear with us. We are working closely with the school and the Archdiocese of Liverpool to arrange for a phased return to school as soon as is practically possible, and we will keep parents and pupils up to date with the latest developments."