Two bins full of old books, which had been intended for recycling, went up in flames at Kaitaia College early yesterday morning.
The alarm was raised just before 6am. Kaitaia Fire Brigade sent two appliances to a service area on the school's Pukepoto Road boundary and firefighters scrambled over a locked gate to reach the flames.
The heat was sufficiently intense to not only to destroy the books but burn the skips they had been in, the flames spreading to other skips full of rubbish and at one point almost reaching a diesel storage tank.
The school's tractor was in a shed immediately adjacent to the fire, but protected by a shipping container. A wooden fence shielded a two-storey classroom block a little further away.