Public school left badly damaged after huge fire

STUDENTS were evacuated from a public school last night after a huge fire spread rapidly through a girls’ boarding house.

Felsted School, near Great Dunmow, was left badly damaged after the blaze, which had to be tackled by more than 40 firefighters.

The fire started at around 7pm on Sunday (July 15) in the roof and first floor of Follyfield House, where students attending Stafford House International Summer School were staying. Around 25 pupils were evacuated and no one was injured.

Firefighters had to battle a poor water supply, with fire engines having to leave the site and bring water back on tanks carried on the vehicles. Water was also pumped from a nearby lake.

An investigation is now underway into what caused the fire.

Fire crews had the blaze under control by around 11.40pm, although the fire service said it expected to be at the scene “for some hours yet”.

Speaking on Sunday night, Divisional Officer Ray Skinner said: “We have been hampered throughout this incident by a poor water supply, we are using the high volume pump to get water from a lake around half a mile away.

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“Crews will be here throughout the night working to contain the fire and this will supply the many gallons of water they will need.

“Firefighters have been working extremely hard in difficult conditions. On arrival crews were faced with a large and well established fire which has spread inside the building which is now completely alight.

“Our work will continue here throughout the night and into the morning.”

A structural engineer was due to assess the integrity of the building at some point this morning.