A group of boys arrested on suspicion of arson, after a fire ravaged Leyland St Mary’s Catholic Technology College, were seen inspecting the damage outside the school by a furious local councillor.
The suspects, aged 11, 12, 12, 13 and 15, from Leyland, have been released on police bail until September 30, pending further enquires.
Coun Tony Kelly, who represents the Lowerhouse ward in Leyland, said he had seen some of the suspects walk past the school after they were released yesterday.
He said: “I can’t understand the mentality of them. They walked past the school while I was down there.
“It’s absolutely devastating. The hard work which has gone on over the years, not just from the school, but from everybody on the estate.
“All my children went there and I’ve got a daughter who lives on Royal Avenue now.
“The anger has died down a bit –now it’s just turned to disbelief.”
Parents and children gathered outside the school yesterday as firefighters continued damping down the site and investigating the cause of the fire.
Parent Jenny Rowan said: “I’m totally gutted. I can’t believe what has happened. My boys are so upset.
“My son is going into Year 10 and is worried abut his exams.
“It is absolutely devastating.”
Former pupil and parent Bev Reynolds said: “All I can say is I’m gutted for my own child starting there, but I also have lots of memories from going there myself.
“It is a sad day for our parish.”
Peter Hardcastle, 66, from Euxton, inspected the damage with his grandson Adam Nelson, 11, who was meant to start at the school today.
He said: “His mum, my daughter, is really upset. We don’t know what will happen now.”
Adam said: “I was looking forward to starting school.”
Former pupil Veronica Fairclough, 54, who lives across the road from the school, said she rang the fire brigade after spotting the blaze.
She said: “At first we didn’t think it was that bad, but when the wind got hold of it, the flames shot up.
“We heard a bang when it went up.
“All four of my children went to that school.
“It’s sad for the community.
“One of the secretaries was here last night.
“She was absolutely heartbroken because all the memories of the last headteacher who retired have gone, all the photos.
“All the work has gone.”
Staff, pupils, parents and friends of the school are welcome to join mass at St Mary’s Church at 8am today.
l The school suffered a serious fire in September 1974, when a ROSLA prefabricated building at the back of the school was destroyed by fire.