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UPDATED: Valuable documents saved by firefighters as blaze ripped through Glenroi Heights school

December 6, 2022

The aftermath of the fire on Tuesday morning (Copyright: Orange News Examiner) and the blaze (copyright: Troy Pearson/TNV)..

By Peter Holmes

“We always suspect arson,” said acting superintendent Gerard Lawson, relieving commander at Central West Police District, early on Tuesday morning.

“That’s how we are; police are suspicious by nature and we just go through a process of elimination.”

Superintendent Lawson was standing at the gates to Glenroi Heights Public School. Behind him, a fire-damaged building housing administration and the school library.

He had been asked if the fire was suspicious. They're always suspicious, until they're not.

"It’s subject to an investigation - we will have forensic police coming this morning to do an examination of the scene to determine the cause of the fire, but at this stage we are treating it as suspicious until we have proven otherwise.”

Acting superintendent Gerard Lawson speaks to the media early on Tuesday morning. Copyright; Orange News Examiner.

He said it appeared as if “the fire has been pretty much contained to the administration block. Lots of damage upstairs in the library, but I do understand those sensitive records and papers have been saved by the fire brigade.”

Emergency services were called at about 10pm Monday after being alerted to the blaze by witnesses and local residents, Lawson said.

He said forensic police investigators had attended the fire overnight and would return on Tuesday. Local homes will be canvassed by police seeking information.

Classes at the school were suspended, Lawson said, urging the “school community to stay in contact with the school and they’ll advise about classes in the future, but the school is trying to resume before the end of the week”.

The principal of the school Tegan Davis was on site on Tuesday morning but declined to comment, directing media to the education department.

The scene overnight in Glenroi. Copyright: Troy Pearson/TNV.

Firefighters didn’t leave the scene until about 4am Tuesday.

Crews from Orange 412 and Bathurst 216 Fire and Rescue, and a number of NSW Rural Fire Service brigades, were required to get the blaze under control.

At around 10:30pm Bathurst Fire and Rescue sent Pump 216 Alpha and Hazmat 216 to the incident, while Pump 216 Bravo provided incident response to Orange.

"The Bravo and Hazmat returned just as the sun started coming up," said Bathurst 216.

The Orange News Examiner has sought comment from Orange 412.

Principal Davis posted on social media at about 2:30am Tuesday.

“Dear Glenroi Heights families,

“Our school will be non-operational on Tuesday 6th December and learning will be from home while we assess the site and ensure safety.

“Further communication will come throughout the day. The library and admin buildings are the only sites that were damaged.

“Learning from home links will be provided in our Facebook groups along with links to student wellbeing support.

“Thank you for your ongoing support and understanding during this time."

In response to a comment about how upset the children would be upon hearing about the fire, Davis said: "Remind them that we can always rebuild and we are all safe."

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She described Glenroi Heights Public School as "a very strong and resilient community".

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