Firefighters from across Derbyshire battled flames for over 12 hours to save the sports complex at St Anselm’s School from burning down completely in a “serious” fire.
At 11pm on Saturday, January 5, firefighters from Bakewell, Matlock, Buxton, Hathersage, Bradwell, Whaley Bridge, Chesterfield and Ripley were all called to attend the fire on Stanage Road, Bakewell.
The blaze, which is thought to have started in the boiler room before quickly spreading, caused substantial damage to the boarding school’s sports complex.
David Hutchinson, group manager of operations and chief firefighter at the scene, said: “When you get a fire in such a large building it takes hold extremely fast and often you end up losing the building completely.
“The local proximity of fire stations helped enormously as we were able to get water on the fire very early.
“If we had been even half an hour later, though, there’s a good chance we would have lost the building to the fire.”
At the time of publication, analysis was being conducted to find exactly how the blaze started and the true extent of the damage.
But early indications suggest that, once flames had taken hold of the boiler room, the blaze spread to a storage room which contained highly-flammable gym equipment.
The fire then spread to a neighbouring staff room before engulfing the roof of the building’s changing rooms.
Headmaster Peter Phillips said: “I would just like to say that all the fire crew were superb and the school is now open as usual.”
David Hutchinson added: “Nobody was hurt and damage was contained to a minimum, so things could definitely have been a lot worse.”
As the sports complex is a separate building, St Anselm’s opened as normal on Wednesday, January 8, with some students returning the day before.