Education officials were today dealing with the aftermath of the £20m fire that ripped through a county secondary school.
Fire chiefs estimate 60 per cent of Leyland St Mary’s Catholic Technology College will have to be bulldozed after Sunday’s alleged arson attack.
Only the lower school building is thought to have survived the ferocious blaze, which took 125 firefighters more then four hours to bring under control.
A Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “Contractors will be brought in to demolish the sections of the school which were caught up in the blaze. Whether the education authorities decide to clear the whole lot and start afresh is up to them. But certainly 60 per cent at least has gone.”
However, Kathy McNicholas, the school’s headteacher, said she was “quietly optimistic” part of the school could be brought back into use.
She said: “Because of the prevailing wind and the sterling work of the firefighters, they managed to prevent the fire moving into what we call the lower school building.
“So we do have 14 classrooms, a drama theatre and a studio and common room and catering facilities still intact.
“We’re quietly optimistic once we get on site and we’re allowed proper access with surveyors those areas will be able to be cleaned up and brought back into commission.”
If it is decided to clear the entire site and build a new school, the cost could run into tens of millions of pounds.
County Coun 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.
“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 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.”