Westland High School left 'unrecognisable' after fire

By Janna Sherman of the Hokitika Guardian

The view from inside the school hall. Photo / Supplied
The view from inside the school hall. Photo / Supplied

Photographs taken inside Westland High School show the devastating extent of the damage after the fire on Monday.

Teacher Nick Meissel captured the charred scene in what was once the assembly hall, administration block and staffroom on Tuesday, when some staff members were allowed in to retrieve personal affects and important documents.

"The thing that really struck me was that it was so unrecognisable," he said yesterday.

The images show a mess of rubble and debris in what was the hall as well as what remains of the stairway to the staff room and corridor towards the main office.

A report on the full extent of the damage, including the level of smoke and water damage to the adjoining A and B classroom wings, is expected to be completed today.

Principal Trevor Jones said it would give a much clearer understanding on when the school could re-open.

The first priority was removing rubble as it contained asbestos.

The school, Ministry of Education and Work Safe were working through the necessary process to correctly remove the waste. It was not known yet how long that could take.

Mr Jones said in the interim the school had been offered school hall space by a number of Hokitika schools as well as Tai Poutini Polytech, in Greymouth. The Regent Theatre and Westland District Council has also offered the use of its buildings for classes or meetings.

"We have had amazing support from the community offering help in all kinds of ways and I would really like to thank the whole community for the way they have stepped forward to help."

- Greymouth Star

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