Corrimal High School will remain closed on Monday and Tuesday as police and firefighters continue investigating a major blaze that destroyed the school’s industrial arts building at the weekend.
Parents are being asked to keep their children at home while the school is shut, however arrangements will be in place for those students unable to remain at home, the school said in a post on its Facebook page on Saturday afternoon.
“Provisions have been made for students sitting HSC exams for the remainder of the week to undertake their exams at Woonona High School,” the post read.
”Parents and carers of students in the school’s special education unit will be contacted over the weekend to discuss arrangements for their children.”
Emergency services were called to the school just before 5 o’clock on Saturday morning with reports of a building on fire inside the Murray road site. They arrived to discover the industrial arts building well alight.
At the height of the fire, 15 Illawarra-based trucks containing 60 firefighters were onsite battling the inferno, which could be seen in neighbouring suburbs.
It was eventually extinguished later that afternoon, however not before destroying six classrooms and damaging three more.
Police are treating the fire as suspicious and are calling on anyone who witnessed any unusual activity in the area that night to contact Wollongong detectives or Crimestoppers.
Meantime, Keira MP Ryan Park, whose electorate office is based in Corrimal, vowed to help the school rebuild.
“Corrimal High is a great school with a terrific principal and very committed staff and fantastic kids,” he said.
“We will make sure you get the support you need to get the school fully functioning again.”
The school also received a wave of support from residents and nearby schools – the latter reaching out to offer Corrimal High principal Paul Rodger resources and teaching materials.
Others left messages of support on the school’s Facebook page.
“Very devastating but we will definitely stand together and rebuild stronger then ever,” incoming school captain 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.”
School fire brings out the best in us
It’s not for the first time in this paper’s history that we give thanks today for the dedication and professionalism of our local emergency service workers.
In particular, we give a shout-out to the firefighters across the Illawarra who fought Saturday’s early morning blaze at Corrimal High School.
Sadly, six classrooms inside the industrial art building were completely destroyed, while a further three were damaged, but we know without the fine work of our firies, the destruction could have been much worse.
NSW Fire and Rescue Illawarra duty commander Andrew Erlik put it best when he heaped praise on his troops after their stellar efforts on Saturday.
“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.
“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.”
As our hearts swell with pride for our local firies, they also break for the school’s staff and students – especially those currently in the middle of their HSC.
This time of year for Year 12 students is difficult and stressful enough without the added distraction of now having to complete exams in an unfamiliar environment at another school.
Luckily, that school is in the neighbouring suburb – thanks Woonona for extending the hand of friendship to your peers during their time of need – but we still feel for those students who may find this move disruptive to their concentration.
And lastly, we hope police and fire investigators can carry out the required forensic examinations of the burned-out building to determine the cause of the fire, including the answer to the question everyone is asking: was this an act of arson?
Only time will reveal the outcome of that pertinent question, but for now, we urge our readers and the public to support the staff and students of Corrimal High School; they deserve our backing as they move to rebuild their community. – Editorial
- Watch dramatic footage of the Corrimal High School fire
- Images show the destruction of the Industrial Arts block
- Advice to Corrimal High parents and students from authorities
- 'We will rebuild stronger than ever': devastating fire unites school
- Corrimal man called triple-zero after waking up to 'two pops'