Student arrested over $1m blaze

By Kiri Gillespie

A school student has been arrested after a suspicious fire at his school.

The technology block at Whangamata Area School was destroyed when fire took hold of the building last week.

Insurance assessors have yet to review the contents inside but the final cost is expected to exceed one million dollars.

Detective Sergeant Martyn Hughes of the Thames-Coromandel CIB said a joint police and New Zealand Fire Service investigation established the cause of the fire at the school a week ago was the reckless use of matches.

"As a result a 17-year-old male student from the school was charged with arson and appeared in the Thames District Court [on Monday]," Mr Hughes said.

"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."

Principal Ross Preece said the school would be there to be support the student.

"We are thinking of what's best for him now.

"The justice system will do what it does."

A permit has been issued for demolition work to begin on the former technology block but assessors are yet to review contents inside.

Demolition work is expected to take place after this from Thursday.

"The worst-case scenario is demolition on Monday," Mr Preece said.

It is expected the building will be replaced and open to students from Term 2 next year.

In the meantime, students will sit the book-work part of their technology studies in other classrooms, with more focus on the practical studies later in the year, when the block is reopened.


- Hamilton News

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