The head of a historic secondary school which was engulfed by fire said they hope to resume classes as planned within weeks.

Catherine Fitzpatrick, principal of the Patrician Academy in Mallow, Co Cork, said she is liaising closely with the Department of Education as investigation s into yesterday’s devastating blaze continue.

The school’s 1992-built two-storey extension was gutted in the blaze which broke out around 3.20am. It contained three science laboratories with a tiered demonstration room, two drawing rooms, a building construction room, a geography lab, and four classrooms.

Ms Fitzpatrick said it was devastating for the entire school community.

“But we are already liaising with our insurers, and with Department of Education officials, to make the necessary arrangements to resume classes as planned on August 25,” she said.

It was not clear last night whether the school will have to use prefabs, or will have to relocate to temporary accommodation elsewhere.

Ms Fitzpatrick said staff, students, and parents will be briefed as soon as possible.

The alarm was raised at 3.20am and firefighters from the retained units of the Cork County Fire Service based in Mallow, Kanturk, and Charleville responded, before units of Cork City Fire Brigade arrived as back-up.

Senior executive fire officer Barry Collins said up to 50 firefighters managed to contain it within two to three hours, preventing damage to the school’s original monastery section, which dates from the 1880s and was converted for admin use, and preventing damage to nearby houses. No injuries were reported.

Gardaí plan to examine CCTV footage and are awaiting results of forensic examinations before making further comment.

Cork East Fine Gael TD and Junior Justice Minister David Stanton contacted Education Minister Richard Bruton to ensure alternative accommodation, and funding is found.

Local Labour TD Sean Sherlock, a past pupil of the Patrician Academy, also contacted the secretary general of the department. He said the fire was a “real shock for the town”.


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