200 children evacuated as fire breaks out at Plymouth primary school
MORE than 200 children had to be evacuated from a primary school when a faulty wall heater sparked a fire alert.
The incident at Holy Cross Catholic Primary School yesterday morning saw emergency services dash to the scene.
It also sparked fears of a repeat of a devastating blaze that tore through the building three years ago.
Two fire crews were sent to the Beaumont Road school at about 9.10am yesterday.
It followed a 999 call about a "strong electrical smell", the fire service said.
Around 220 pupils were evacuated while firefighters from Greenbank and Plymstock searched the building.
Executive head at the school Paul Cotter said: "Staff came to school yesterday morning to find a really strong electrical smell.
"We had quite a bad fire here three years ago so we're very cautious about fire safety, we make sure we follow all procedures fully.
"The kids and staff were great.
"Everyone was evacuated and then returned inside when the site was safe."
Firefighters said they found a small fire on the first floor of the school building which was already out.
The crews made an inspection of the area and made the building safe before leaving.
A spokesman from Greenbank Fire Station said: "We received a call reporting a strong smell of burning at the school.
"The school building was evacuated when the call was made.
"When we arrived we found an electrical wall heater had short circuited causing the strong smell of burning.
"We made the area safe and the staff and students returned back inside."
In January 2010 a suspected arsonist struck, setting fire to a second-floor cloakroom and first-floor classroom.
Youngsters had to move into the church next door for lessons because of the damage.
Police later interviewed a child of primary school age in connection with the incident.