Classes resume for senior students following school fire
UPDATE MONDAY 10.45AM: CLASSES resumed for some students at Bellingen High School following the suspicious fire last Friday.
Year 11 and 12 students returned to school today.
The school issued a statement which noted rooms which could be used had been cleaned up and repaired at the weekend.
Timetables had been adjusted to suit room availability.
The statement said the next step would be to assess the school's resources to find out what needs to be replaced.
"All offers of support are greatly appreciated and will be called upon if and when needed."
Principal Paul Holding said Year 12 parent teacher evening and school photographs had been postponed.
Sporting events planned for this week will go ahead.
UPDATE 4.45PM: BELLINGEN High School principal Paul Holding sent a text message to all parents and guardians advising school will resume next week.
Mr Holding said only Year 11 and 12 students would return to school on Monday.
Parents were asked to keep Year 7 to 10 students at home to help with recovery work.
Supervision for any students unable to stay at home will be provided.
It is anticipated school will resume on Tuesday with modified room allocations.
Mr Holding said support would be made available for students on Monday and Tuesday.
"We are all very disappointed that this has happened to our school but are looking forward to getting our students back to school and getting back to doing all those things we know make our school and community great," he said.
Mr Holding said one staff room was extensively damaged by fire while five classrooms sustained associated damage.
He said two other staff rooms and the library had been vandalised.
UPDATE 3.20PM: COFFS Clarence LAC Acting Detective Inspector Matt Zimmer said the act of vandalism had not only caused great damage to the school, it had also greatly disrupted the Bellingen community.
Det Zimmer urged parents to talk with their children about the incident and provide police any information which could be used to identify any offenders.
"We have no doubt the fire is suspicious," he said.
Det Zimmer said the more information police had, the greater chance the offender or offenders will be charged and put before the courts.
You can phone Coffs Harbour Police Station on 6691 0799.
Bellingen High School had about 586 students enrolled in 2016.
UPDATE 1.30PM: POLICE are appealing for witnesses after Bellingen High School was broken into and and vandalised, causing more than $100,000 worth of damage.
Officers from Coffs/Clarence Local Area Command were told security attended the school after alarms were triggered about 2am.
A number of windows were smashed and fires were lit in classrooms and the library.
The administration building was also ransacked and vandalised.
The fires caused significant damage to two classrooms and the library.
No one was injured in the incident.
A crime scene was established and is currently being examined by specialist forensic officers.
Investigators believe the fires were deliberately lit.
If you have any information about this incident, phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.
UPDATE 10.38AM: THE NSW Department of Education stated student arrangements for next week would be released later today following a fire at Bellingen High School.
The department issued a statement that said there had been a significant fire and vandalism at the school.
"The school will temporarily cease operations today and asks that students remain at home. The school is contacting families by email and text," it said.
"There will be further advice later today about arrangements next week."
ORIGINAL: BELLINGEN High School was forced to close today after vandals broke in and lit multiple fires.
Bellingen Fire and Rescue NSW station commander Brian Woollard said windows of the school had been smashed.
"The library was actually vandalised, books were thrown on the floor and they tried to set them alight," he said.
Mr Woollard said his station got the call just before 3am.
"When we arrived at the building, one fire was well alight," he said.
"There were multiple fires."
Mr Woollard said one classroom sustained major damage while others had smoke damage.
He said fire investigation teams would assess the scene today. Police are also at the school.
"We had a good save. The boys did a great job," he said.
Mr Woollard said crews from Bellingen, Sawtell, Coffs Harbour, Urunga and the Rural Fire Service had the fires under control in about an hour.
The school issued a notice to all students to stay at home.