The blazing fire that gutted a major Corrimal High School block of classrooms has not dampened the spirit of the tight-knit community.
Just hours after the fire totally destroyed the industrial arts building, residents and nearby schools were reaching out and offering assistance to Corrimal HS principal Paul Rodger.
Very devastating but we will definitely stand together and rebuild stronger then ever.
And as fire crews worked throughout Saturday to mop up the area, parents, students and members of the community left messages of support on Corrimal High's Facebook page.
“Very devastating but we will definitely stand together and rebuild stronger then ever,” student Chiahni Zulian wrote.
“We as students cannot thank you guys enough for the work you do every day and I am certain that we will showcase our pride and strength as we rebuild ... strongest school community I know.”
Fire and rescue crews were alerted about the fire at about 5am on Saturday morning.
NSW Fire and Rescue duty commander Illawarra Andrew Erlik said several classrooms in the building were well alight and totally engulfed in fire when crews arrived just after 5am.
“There are classrooms on either side of the building and the crews have done a fantastic job of stopping the fire from getting into the adjoining classrooms,” he said.
Mr Erlik said he was extremely proud of all firefighters.
“They’ve done an excellent job in extinguishing this fire. To keep the damage to one block and just some radiant heat exposure to a couple of surrounding buildings...the crews have done a fantastic job.”
Police are treating the fire as suspicious and urging anyone with information to come forward.
The school will remain closed on Monday and Tuesday to allow fire investigations and to safely monitor demolition of the building.
The Department of Education has arranged alternative venues for students undertaking HSC exams.
Suitable temporary buildings are being sourced for the Industrial Arts programs to continue in Term 4.
Keira MP Ryan Park vowed to help the school rebuild after the fire, which destroyed at least six classrooms and damaged three more.
“I have informed the principal and staff who were at the school this morning that I will ensure we get this great comprehensive high school back up and running and that the facilities that have been destroyed replaced as soon as possible,” Mr Park said.
The Mercury understands the destroyed building and classrooms contained artworks of students sitting their HSC.
Counselling services will be available for students and staff and can be accessed by contacting the school on Monday.
In a prepared statement, the Department of Education and the school executive thanked the “outstanding efforts of Fire+Rescue NSW in containing the fire, the support of NSW Police, and local residents who alerted emergency services of the situation”.
“The school would also like to express their appreciation for the support and offers of assistance for teaching resources and materials from schools across the state, and from community organisations in the area.”