Student charged with Whangamata Area School fire

A school student has been charged with arson following a fire at the Coromandel Peninsula school last week.

The blaze destroyed the wood and metal workshops, automotive area and a small classroom at Whangamata Area School about 10am last Wednesday.

Five trucks from Whangamata, Pauanui, Tairua and Waihi spent two hours battling the blaze.

It had previously been thought the fire was accidental. However, Detective Sergeant Martyn Hughes of the Thames-Coromandel CIB said a joint Police and Fire Service investigation had determined the fire was started by reckless use of matches.

Mr Hughes said a 17-year-old male student from the school was charged with arson and appeared in the Thames District Court yesterday.

"The man was bailed to reappear in the Waihi District Court at a yet to be determined date next month and Waikato Police would like to thank the local Whangamata community for all their assistance during this inquiry."

School principal Ross Preece last week told the Bay of Plenty Times the fire caused in excess of $1 million of damage.

School staff described the fire as horrifying.

- Hamilton News

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