Almost 700 students have been left in limbo after a fire ripped through the Auckland Normal Intermediate School yesterday, less than a week before the new school year was due to start.

Principal Jill Farquharson is in meetings this morning and said no decision had yet been made on when, or whether, the school will reopen.

"No updates yet but will certainly have an answer later today," she said in a text.

She told Newstalk ZB last night that the fire, which started about 2.30pm yesterday, had largely destroyed the school's historic hall, technology suites, science, dance and drama and music rooms and possibly an arts room and two classrooms.

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Water hosed on to the site by about 90 firefighters has left water damage "throughout".

"At this stage we don't know. We are still making decisions as to what's going to happen," Farquharson told ZB.

The school was due to open for Year 7 students on Tuesday and for Year 8 on Wednesday next week, with a full pōwhiri and school assembly on Wednesday.

Last year the decile 9 school had a roll of 667, including 29 international students.

Farquharson told ZB that the fire was "devastating".

"I'm feeling pretty gutted at the moment, probably more so for the teachers that have had their rooms all set up, but also this is a historical building," she said.

"These are the original buildings at the school and they are the only ones that are left, so it is devastating."

The site in Poronui St, Mt Eden, was originally part of the Auckland Teachers' College and was converted for the intermediate school in 1945, upgrading existing primary school facilities linked to the college.

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Smoke billowed from Auckland Normal Intermediate yesterday as firefighters battled the blaze. Photo / Michael Craig
Smoke billowed from Auckland Normal Intermediate yesterday as firefighters battled the blaze. Photo / Michael Craig

Farquharson said utility companies had cut all services to the school.

"They will cease all services to that [fire-damaged] area, and we just have to see whether we can connect this half of the school before we can use it. We are in a little bit of limbo at the moment," she said.

She said the Ministry of Education was working with the school's board of trustees to decide what to do.