Blaze damages headteacher's car

A BLAZE which engulfed a contractors' lorry on a school site caused serious heat damage to a car and boat owned by the headteacher.The alarm was raised at Framlingham College after black smoke was seen pouring from an 18-tonne goods vehicle owned by a sand-blasting firm called Ripblast and Company, working in the crypt of the school's chapel.

By David Green

A BLAZE which engulfed a contractors' lorry on a school site caused serious heat damage to a car and boat owned by the headteacher.

The alarm was raised at Framlingham College after black smoke was seen pouring from an 18-tonne goods vehicle owned by a sand-blasting firm called Ripblast and Company, working in the crypt of the school's chapel.

Explosions - from compressed air cylinders on the lorry - were heard as staff and contractors quickly evacuated themselves from the school buildings.


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No pupils were in the school because the Easter holidays have already started.

A fire crew from Framlingham was quickly on the scene and, with the help of firefighters from Debenham, who arrived soon afterwards, the blaze was quickly put out.

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However, the lorry and its equipment was destroyed and the heat of the furnace seriously damaged two cars and a boat on a trailer, parked nearby.

One of the cars and the boat and trailer were owned by the school head, Gwen Randall.

Mrs Randall said “There was black smoke and then the explosions. It was quite frightening.

“Fortunately, the wind took the flames away from the chapel itself.”

However, there had been “collateral damage” to her car and her boat which was on a trailer. The car of another member of staff had also suffered heat damage.

“However, no-one was hurt and all evacuation procedures were followed correctly.”

Mrs Randall said the boat, used for leisure trips up the River Deben, was worth about £2,000.

“It looks as if it has melted. I doubt if it will ever float again,” she added. Insurance assessors were due at the school to inspect all the damage and the cause of the fire was being investigated.

A Suffolk Fire Service spokeswoman said: “When we arrived on the scene we found the lorry heavily engulfed in flames.”

Contractors are working in the crypt of the school's chapel in order to convert the area into a sixth form centre.

When yesterday's blaze broke out they were sand-blasting the walls of the crypt.

Justin Ripley, a director of Ripblast, based at Snetterton, Norfolk, visited the scene and said later that damage was expected to be between £40,000 and £50,000.

“It got so hot that the Tarmac melted on the ground under the lorry,” he said.

A faulty starter-motor in one of the compressed air generators used to operate the sand-blasting equipment was the cause of the fire, he added.

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